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Bill would offer lifetime recreation passes to wounded veterans

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All wounded veterans would be entitled to a lifetime National Recreation Pass under new legislation. Rep. Raul Ruiz (D-CA) introduced the Wounded Veterans Recreation Act (H.R. 3976), which would give every veteran with a service-connected disability a free pass to all federal recreational lands and waters.

The bill became available online on Monday, Feb. 3. You can find it at http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?c113:H.R.3976:.

The legislation was referred to the committees on Natural Resources and Agriculture. It immediately picked up 19 cosponsors.

The passes, currently available for purchase on an annual basis, apply to all lands owned and operated by the U.S. Forest Service, National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Reclamation, and US Fish & Wildlife Service. They cover entrance fees and some amenities but not special permits or all activities. Discounts are available on the basis of age or disability.

You can find the law that authorizes the passes, the Federal Lands Recreation enhancement Act, at http://www.blm.gov/pgdata/etc/medialib/blm/wo/Planning_and_Renewable_Resources/recreation_images/national_programs/recreation_fees__.Par.63083.File.dat/REA%20Text%20Final.pdf.

Note: All citizens with permanent disabilities, including veterans, are eligible for a a free America the Beautiful Federal Recreational Lands Access Pass, which provides the same benefits. See http://www.nps.gov/findapark/passes.htm.

We called Ruiz' office to ask why another pass is needed. Two staffers said they didn't know.

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