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Veterans Deserve Better Access to Our Public Lands

September 27, 2021
posted in: News

Bozeman, Montana. September 27, 2021. Today, the Wild Sheep Foundation (WSF) expressed its support for the Alexander Lofgren Veterans In Parks (VIP) Act (S.2580/H.R.4300), legislation to grant free access to public lands to active-duty members of the Armed Forces, veterans, and Gold Star families. 

"Many members of our Armed Forces make the ultimate sacrifice to preserve our freedoms," said Gray N. Thornton, president, and CEO of the Wild Sheep Foundation. "The very least that we can do is help active-duty members of the Armed Forces, veterans, and Gold Star families enjoy our nation’s public lands a little easier – and the VIP Act will do just that."

The VIP Act was introduced by Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks (R-IA, 2) and passed the House unanimously in July. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) recently introduced companion legislation in the Senate, and the bill has been referred to the Committee on Energy & Natural Resources. If passed by the Senate, and signed into law by the President, all active-duty members of the Armed Forces, veterans, and Gold Star families will be eligible to receive America the Beautiful-National Parks, and Federal Recreational Lands passes at no charge. 

The VIP Act is currently awaiting a hearing in the Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee. If the bill passes out of this committee, it may then be voted on by the entire U.S. Senate. In parallel, this legislation may be added to a separate legislative vehicle, the National Defense Authorization Act, via an amendment offered by Rep. Miller-Meeks (R-IA, 2). 

"Let’s do the right thing by our nation’s servicemembers and get the VIP Act to the President’s desk," Thornton concluded. "WSF applauds Rep. Miller-Meeks and Sen. Sinema for doing the right thing for our nation’s servicemen and women."

The Wild Sheep Foundation (WSF), based in Bozeman, Mont., was founded in 1977 by wild sheep conservationists and enthusiasts. With a membership of more than 10,000 worldwide, WSF is the premier advocate for wild sheep and other mountain wildlife and their habitats. WSF has raised and expended more than $135 million on wild sheep habitat and population enhancements, education, and conservation advocacy programs in North America, Europe, and Asia to “Put and Keep Wild Sheep on the Mountain®.” These and other efforts have increased bighorn sheep populations in North America from historic lows in the 1950-60s of 25,000 to more than 85,000 today.

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