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5th-graders ask Nevada Assembly for free state park admission

CARSON CITY — Fifth-graders in KellyLynn Charles’ class at Lummis Elementary School in Las Vegas are all in on a proposal in the Legislature to give them one-year free passes to Nevada’s state parks and recreational areas.

Except for George, who, in his letter regarding Assembly Bill 385, had other ideas of how to spend his free time.

The students wrote to the Assembly Natural Resources, Agriculture and Mining Committee telling lawmakers they support AB385 to provide one-year of free park admission to fifth-graders and other occupants of a passenger vehicle.

Assemblyman Steve Yeager, D-Las Vegas, introduced the bill, which was heard Tuesday.

Asha wrote: “As a fifth grader, I feel that we should get a free annual pass for state parks because it would let me and my family both have fun and learn about things in that park. For example, the Ward Charcoal Ovens State Park would teach me about the ovens there and it would let me have time with my family having a picnic or camp. I would learn about how they built the ovens and my family would learn how and why the ovens were built.”

A number of students said cost is an issue for their families to take such trips. Park entrance fees vary from $9 to visit Big Bend of the Colorado to $7 for Cathedral Gorge to $10 for Valley of Fire. The pass would exclude camping and other fees.

WINGS INSTEAD?

The students were nearly unanimous in their support of the bill. But George, who wrote in a grammar-challenged letter that a visit to Beaver Dam Sate Park would be OK for his family, but he would rather go “two buffalo wild wings cause that’s where I go” all the “tim and its whey more better hten a state park.”

Yeager said the idea for the bill came from a federal program called “Every Kid in a Park” that provides free passes to fourth-graders to visit national parks.

Eric Johnson, administrator of the state Parks Division, said the program would generate minimal costs and would fit in with the agency’s mission. He testified neutral on the bill.

Yeager said he is going to propose an amendment to give the Parks Division the flexibility to determine how to distribute the passes. One idea would be to give the passes to the school districts for distribution.

Passes could be given to fourth-graders at the end of the school year.

No immediate action was taken on the measure.

Contact Sean Whaley at swhaley@reviewjournal.com or 775-461-3820. Follow @seanw801 on Twitter.

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