DENVER – A bill that would establish a permanent federal program that allows fourth graders and their supervisors free entry to national public lands and waters, which has bipartisan support from most of Colorado’s congressional delegation, passed the U.S. House of Representatives in a nearly unanimous vote Wednesday.
The Every Kid Outdoors Act, of which Rep. Scott Tipton (R-Colo.) and Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Colo.) are original cosponsors, passed out of the House in a 383-2 vote. All seven of Colorado’s House members voted in favor of the bill’s passage.
Reps. Jared Polis and Ed Perlmutter, both Democrats, were also cosponsors of the bill. They signed on to support the measure in July 2017, shortly after it was introduced.
Should the bill pass the Senate and be signed by President Trump, the Departments of Interior, Agriculture, Commerce and the Army would establish the Every Kid Outdoors program, which would be a permanent version of the Every Kid in a Park Program. Under the program, fourth graders and adult supervisors can get in free to all land, water and historic sites managed by the federal government.
Under the measure, if passed, those federal agencies would also be allowed to collaborate with state parks to implement a similar and complementary state park pass for those students.
“As a life-long resident of Western Colorado, National Parks and Monuments have been the backdrop of countless memories, and I want to make sure that all kids have the same opportunity to experience these treasures,” Tipton said in a statement after the measure’s passage. “Economic barriers should not prevent children and their families from visiting these sites that belong to every one of us. The Every Kid Outdoors Act would eliminate one of these barriers, giving fourth grade children of all backgrounds the chance to visit and learn from National Parks for free, and hopefully inspire them to become responsible stewards of public lands.”
An identical bill in the Senate, sponsored by Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) has seven cosponsors, including Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.). The bill has been heard in the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee’s subcommittee on National Parks.
The measure also has support from a slew of outdoors, youth and environmental groups.