Veterans Sponsorship Program to Expand in 2017
 
In honor of Veterans Day, Alabama State Parks will waive the entrance fee for veterans at all state parks on November 11-13, 2016. Anyone who indicates they are a veteran will be admitted into the park day-use areas without charge. No identification will be required. 
 
Veterans have been leaders in the development of state parks and other public lands across the country. Several of Alabama’s state parks were developed with help from the Civilian Conservation Corps, which employed numerous veterans. 
 
“Our parks and public lands are places for reflection and serenity, and they stand as a tribute to those who have served our great nation,” said Greg Lein, State Parks Director. “It is important for us all to honor our veterans and other partners who make our parks system possible.”
 
Next year, Alabama State Parks plans to expand its Veterans Sponsorship Program. The program allows park patrons to sponsor free access for veterans to park sites that have an entrance fee. Currently, the program offers veterans free sightseeing, discounted fishing permits ($6 for veterans, normally $9) and other specials at the Gulf State Park Pier. In 2017, the parks system will begin offering veteran sponsorship opportunities at other state parks throughout Alabama.
 
“Parks has run this as a pilot program at Gulf in recent years,” said Rob Grant, State Parks Assistant Director. “The test demonstrates that, within a user pay system, park visitors are willing to support a discount for certain other visitors – all through a voluntary program.”
 
The Veterans Sponsorship Program began on Memorial Day 2014. Since then, 8,922 daily pier fishing discounts and 11,007 daily pier sightseeing passes have been issued to veterans at the Gulf State Park Pier. To date, more than 3,000 donations totaling almost $11,000 have been made to the program. 
 
Those interested in making a donation can do so in person at the pier. For more information call 251-948-7275 extension 2105, email gulf.statepark@dcnr.alabama.gov, or visit www.alapark.com/sponsor-veteran. 
 
Alabama’s state parks are conveniently located throughout the state. From the mountain ranges of the north, to the beaches of Gulf State Park, recreational options abound including lodges, camping, golfing, fishing, boating, hiking, biking, swimming and much more. For more information about Alabama State Parks, visit www.alapark.com.
 
The Alabama State Parks Division relies on visitor fees and the support of other partners like local communities to fund the majority of their operations.  To learn more about Alabama State Parks, visit www.alapark.com.
 
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