In recognition of National Public Lands Day, Alabama State Parks will waive day-use fees on September 29, 2012. Participating parks include those operated by the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. Locations and directions are found at www.alapark.com.

Day-use fees average $1 to $3 per person at most state parks. Fees for park amenities such as canoe rentals and cave tours will still apply, but there will be no cost for activities like hiking, biking, bird-watching or geocaching.

Parks Director Greg Lein says that National Public Lands Day was designated to recognize all that our public lands have to offer. “If there are people who have never visited a state park, this would be a great time to gather the family, pack a picnic lunch and spend a day enjoying the outdoors,” he said. “Since our state parks are dependent on user fees to operate -- not state taxes -- we hope that people will come back another time and pay the nominal entrance fee to visit a park.”

Several of Alabama’s state parks have benefited from land additions through purchases by the Forever Wild Land Trust, including Monte Sano and Cathedral Caverns. Forever Wild directly benefits Alabama’s outdoor enthusiasts through access to public recreational lands and supporting activities such as backpacking, bird-watching, boating, canoeing, camping, field trials, fishing, horseback riding, hunting, mountain biking, nature study and wildlife watching.

As hunting season approaches, hunters can also celebrate the Forever Wild Land Trust’s support of Alabama’s public hunting lands program by hunting on a state Wildlife Management Area (WMA). While Alabama’s public hunting lands program continues to lose no-cost lease lands previously made available under the state’s WMA system, Forever Wild has added new public hunting lands at 16 of the state’s 37 WMAs.

Alabama’s State Parks and Forever Wild lands are part of a larger national system of state-run public lands. These lands are available to all citizens, many of whom rely on them for recreational activities that support a healthy lifestyle.

The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources promotes wise stewardship, management and enjoyment of Alabama’s natural resources through five divisions: Marine Police, Marine Resources, State Lands, State Parks, and Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries. To learn more about ADCNR, visit www.outdooralabama.com.

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