Agencies set free days for federal lands

Fort Vancouver, Mount St. Helens among attractions

By Tom Vogt, Columbian Science, Military & History Reporter



Several federal agencies that manage public lands will offer fee-free days at popular sites in Southwest Washington in 2014.

Fort Vancouver

Fort Vancouver National Historic Site will offer nine free days of admission.

The National Park Service recently announced its free admission schedule for 2014, starting with Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Jan. 20.

Fort Vancouver National Historic Site, 1001 E. Fifth St., is one of 401 national parks; during normal operations, 133 of them charge an entrance fee.

The 2014 entrance fee-free days are:

o Jan. 20: Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

o Feb. 15-17: Presidents Day weekend.

o April 19-20: National Park Week’s opening weekend.

o Aug. 25: National Park Service’s 98th birthday.

o Sept. 27: National Public Lands Day.

• Nov. 11: Veterans Day.

The regular entry fee for the reconstructed fort stockade is $3 per individual; admission is free for children 15 and younger.

The Fort Vancouver site includes the McLoughlin House unit, in Oregon City, Ore.; there is no entry fee at the McLoughlin House unit.

Popular parks in the Northwest that typically charge an entry fee include Olympic National Park and Mount Rainier National Park in Washington, and Crater Lake National Park in Oregon.

Volcano observatory

Johnston Ridge Observatory in the Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument will offer four fee-free days.

Johnston Ridge, administered by the Forest Service, is at the end of state Highway 504, about 50 miles east of Castle Rock.

It has a shorter visitor season because of weather. The final day of operation at Johnston Ridge this year will be Oct. 26.

The fee-free days at Johnston Ridge Observatory, five miles north of Mount St. Helens crater, are:

o May 18: Anniversary of the cataclysmic 1980 eruption.

o June 7: National Trails Day.

o June 14: Get Outdoors Day.

o Sept. 27: National Public Lands Day.

Ridgefield refuge

The Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge will offer seven fee-free days in 2014, including a three-day weekend.

The refuge, managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, includes the Carty Unit, northwest of town, and the River S Unit, southwest of Ridgefield.

The refuge will offer free admission on:

o Jan. 20: Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

o Feb. 15-17: Presidents Day weekend.

o Sept. 27: National Public Lands Day.

o Oct. 12: First day of National Wildlife Week.

• Nov. 11: Veterans Day.

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