January 10, 2022

Effort Seeking to Increase Access to Public Lands for Veterans and Servicemembers Signed into Law as Part of National Defense Authorization Act


Why it matters:  The Veterans in Parks Act recognizes the commitments and selfless contributions made by our nation’s Veterans and servicemembers by establishing free lifetime and annual America the Beautiful passes to access our National Parks and federally managed public lands. In many cases, outdoor recreation, particularly hunting, fishing, trapping, and recreational shooting, plays a critically important role in the lives of our nation’s Veterans and military families.

On December 27, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2022, which included a provision to support America’s Veterans and service men and women in their outdoor pursuits, was signed into law. Specifically, the National Defense Authorization Act included a provision known as the Veterans in Parks (VIP) Act to reduce barriers to entry for Veterans and servicemembers by providing free lifetime and annual passes to access our federal public lands.

The VIP Act is a bipartisan, common-sense provision that seeks to improve access for our nation’s Veterans and servicemembers. By establishing free annual and lifetime America the Beautiful Passes to our nation’s current service members, the VIP Act recognizes the value that America’s public lands play in the lives of Veterans and servicemembers.  Federal public lands provide ample opportunities for Veterans, servicemembers, and their families to participate in countless forms of outdoor recreation including hunting, fishing, trapping, and recreational shooting.

The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation applauds the inclusion of the VIP Act as part of the National Defense Authorization Act. This provision will enhance outdoor recreation for men and women who have put their country first by serving in our nation’s armed forces.

Studies conducted at both the state and federal level have found that the number of hunters and trappers have been on a generally declining trend over the past several decades. To increase recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3) of hunters and trappers, which initiative do you think would have the greatest impact?

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