Story by Diane Priebe, Acting National Recreation Fee Program Assistant Manager, and KC Craven, Outdoor Recreation Planner.
To honor the historic Juneteenth National Independence Day celebration and Federal holiday, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has announced June 19, 2023, as a fee-free day. On this day, all BLM standard amenity day-use fee sites will waive these fees, allowing visitors to more affordably experience healthy outdoor landscapes and the rich cultural heritage available within these public spaces. This designation promotes awareness of Juneteenth and encourages people to explore and enjoy the natural beauty of public lands across the United States.
Juneteenth, also known as Freedom Day or Emancipation Day, marks the date when the last remaining enslaved African Americans in Galveston, Texas, were finally informed of their freedom on June 19, 1865. This momentous occasion came two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation was issued by President Abraham Lincoln. Juneteenth symbolizes the end of slavery in the United States and has since become a day of commemoration and celebration of African American heritage and freedom. In 2021, President Biden signed into law the act establishing Juneteenth National Independence Day as the nation’s newest Federal holiday.
“Recognizing the historical significance of Juneteenth, the BLM has taken a meaningful step to celebrate diversity by establishing, for the first time, this holiday as a fee-free day,” said Tom Heinlein, BLM Assistant Director for National Conservation Lands and Community Partnerships. “Juneteenth serves as a reminder of the importance of inclusivity and accessibility, fostering a sense of unity and connection among Americans from all walks of life. We invite people to explore the vast array of national monuments, recreation areas, and other BLM-managed public lands, and hope to inspire a greater sense of shared stewardship among visitors on this important day.”
Connecting with nature and appreciating the natural world fosters a deeper understanding of the importance of preserving these precious resources for future generations. Let us come together on this special occasion, united in our shared history and the beauty of our public lands. Join the Bureau of Land Management on June 19, 2023, for a memorable day of exploration, reflection, and celebration of Juneteenth.