By Chip Brownlee
Alabama Political Reporter
Just a few days before Veterans Day, Gov. Kay Ivey announced that admission to Alabama State Parks for all veterans will now be free.
The program, launched along with the Alabama Legislature and the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, began on Nov. 1. It will give veterans free access to state parks, park facilities, boat ramps and the Gulf State Park Pier.
“I am so proud that as a state we can stand up together and show our support of veterans,” Ivey said. “This new policy is just another mark in the long history of Alabama supporting our military men and women. More than 1 in 10 Alabamians are veterans and there is still so much that we can do to give them the respect they deserve. I hope this small token will show each distinguished member of our military family how appreciative we are of their service to our country.”
State Rep. Dickie Drake, Sen. Bill Holtzclaw and other House and Senate leaders worked with Conservation and Natural Resources to implement the program, which was supported by the Legislature, Ivey’s office said. Drake plans to file a bill next year to officially codify the free admission policy into law.
“We appreciate the Alabama State Parks’ willingness to implement a ‘Parks for Patriots’ pilot project as House Speaker Mac McCutcheon and I have worked to build legislative support for the initiative,” Drake said. “I will be sponsoring legislation in the coming session that will make the ‘Parks for Patriots’ program a state law so that active duty military personnel, veterans, National Guard members, and reservists for generations to come may be properly thanked for their service while enjoying Alabama’s beautiful state parks.”
The Civilian Conservation Corps, which employed many veterans during the Great Depression, built many of Alabama’s state parks. The structures built by the CCC remain integral parts of the state park system.
“As Veterans Day approaches, we urge all Alabamians to consider sponsoring our veterans by contributing to this new program. It’s just one of the ways we can all show our gratitude for their selfless service to the country,” said Chris Blankenship, Conservation and Natural Resources commissioner.