Federal agencies announce fee free days for 2015

If you want to do some early vacation planning for 2015, the National Park Service and U.S. Forest Service have announced their fee-free days for next year.

The two agencies, along with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management and the Bureau of Reclamation, offer a number of days each year when visitors do not have to pay an admission fee. Other fees, such as those for camping or charged by concessionaires, will still be in place.

The National Park fee-free days are:

Jan. 19: Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Feb. 14-16: Presidents Day weekend.

April 18-19: National Park Week’s opening weekend.

Aug. 25: The National Park Service’s 99th birthday.

Sept. 26: National Public Lands Day, the nation’s largest, single-day volunteer effort in support of public lands.

Nov. 11: Veterans Day.

The Forest Service fee-free days will be:

Jan. 19: Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Feb. 16: Presidents Day.

June 13: National Get Outdoors Day, a day when federal agencies, nonprofit organizations and the recreation industry promote healthy outdoor activities.

Sept. 26: National Public Lands Day.

Nov. 11: Veterans Day.

“These entrance fee free days offer an extra incentive to visit one of these amazing places,” National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis said in a news release. “We are inviting all Americans to discover the beauty and history that lives in our national parks.”

Typically, 133 of the 401 national parks have entrance fees that range from $3-$25.

Other federal land management agencies that will offer their own fee-free days in 2015 are the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, the Bureau of Land Management, the Bureau of Reclamation and the U.S. Forest Service. Please contact each for dates and details.

“These fee-free days are our way of thanking our millions of visitors but also to encourage more people to visit these great public lands,” U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell said in a prepared statement.

Latino project grant

Washington will receive more than $34,000 to inventory Latino properties in the Yakima Valley and Seattle.

The $34,374 matching fund grant comes from the National Park Service, part of $500,000 awarded to 13 projects aimed at increasing the number of National Register of Historic Places listings that are associated with Latinos and other underrepresented communities including African-Americans and Asian-Americans.

The grants were announced Oct. 2 after a meeting of the American Latino Scholars Expert Panel and in honor of National Hispanic Heritage Month.

The projects supported by these grants include surveys and inventories of historic properties, as well as the development of nominations to the National Register for specific sites.

The grants came through the Historic Preservation Fund, which is supported by revenue from federal oil leases on the Outer Continental Shelf. These grants will pay for 60 percent of project costs and require a match of at least 40 percent in state or other nonfederal funds.

Created in 2011, the Latino scholars panel provides recommendations on expanding representation of Latino sites in the National Park system and on the National Register.