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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Sports >  Outdoors

Out & About: Seniors to pay more for federal lands pass

The price of the National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Senior Pass, a lifetime entry pass for citizens age 62 and older, will increase from $10 to $80 on Aug. 28, 2017
The price of the National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Senior Pass, a lifetime entry pass for citizens age 62 and older, will increase from $10 to $80 on Aug. 28, 2017

Social Security payments aren’t getting docked – yet – but Congress passed legislation in December that will significantly ramp up the cost of a federal pass that gets citizens age 62 and older into federal recreation sites where entry fees are charged.

Long considered one of the best bargains in the country’s outdoors, the cost of the America the Beautiful-Senior Pass will increase from $10 to $80 on Aug. 28. The lifetime pass has cost $10 since 1994.

Even at $80, the pass is a bargain. It is valid for the rest of a senior’s life. It covers the entry fee for all the occupants of the family vehicle at more than 2,000 sites managed by the National Park Service, Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Reclamation, Forest Service and Army Corps of Engineers.

Funds from passes are used to enhance the visitor experience and support priority projects and programs, according to the National Park Service.

Examples of places the pass works include Glacier National Park, Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge and Forest Service trailheads in the Blue Mountains, Eagle Cap Wilderness and North Cascades forests.

As word gets out about the upcoming increase – the date was just announced this week – parks and refuges report a big jump in Senior Pass sales to people who are over 62.

The pass can be purchased by mail or online, for $10 before Aug. 28, but there will be an additional $10 charge for processing.

The passes are available for no extra fee at national parks or other federal recreation areas.

In the Spokane area, the passes are sold at Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge headquarters south of Cheney and the Bureau of Land Management office, open weekdays, 7:45 a.m.-4:30 p.m. at 1103 N. Fancher Rd.

A National Park Service release said a spike in orders could delay delivery of the pass by mail by months.

“We’re definitely seeing an increase of purchases,” said Jeff Clark, BLM public affairs officer in Spokane.

The BLM office no longer sells national forest products such as firewood permits or Northwest Forest Passes, but the office still sells the America the Beautiful passes and land ownership maps, he said.

“To buy a Senior Pass you need to have a driver’s license to prove your age,” he said. “In the case of people with a foreign driver’s licenses, they also must bring a passport.”

Previously purchased lifetime Golden Age or Senior Passes will be honored for the lifetime of the pass holder.

The legislation requires that the price of the lifetime Senior Pass be the same as the Interagency Annual Pass, which is currently $80. The legislation also introduces an annual Senior Pass that can be purchased for $20. Seniors who purchase annual Senior Passes for four years can trade them in for a lifetime Senior Pass at no additional charge.

The Senior Pass covers all entrance fees and may provide senior discounts for things such as tours or campsites. The pass also waives the entrance fee for traveling companions.

At a per-person fee site, the pass admits the pass holder and three other adults. Children under 16 are always admitted free.

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