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The National Parks Service (NPS)  has instituted a free annual pass for fourth graders, which would otherwise cost a family $80 (unless the family includes a senior citizen or member of the military). According to the Gazette Xtra, the program is the latest in the National Park Service’s efforts to introduce a new generation to all that is amazing about the 401-park system.

While park visitation hit a record 292.8 million people last year, the number of visitors under the age of 15 has fallen by half the last decade. The overall average age of park visitors has increased, particularly at the big parks out West: According to a new report, the average age of visitors to Denali in Alaska is 57; at Yellowstone, which includes parts of Wyoming, Montana and Idaho, it is 54.

Park officials have begun to worry that interest in and support for the parks will dwindle if the parks don’t become relevant to younger generations. That’s especially crucial with 80 percent of Americans living in urban settings, and the only forests they might ever see are on the wallpaper samples for their iPads.

So officials have been brainstorming and coming up with new programs for kids.

The free passes for fourth-graders are available at the new website everykidinapark.gov. To get the pass, fourth-graders need to answer a few questions about outdoor adventures. Then, yes, there’s instant gratification: you can print out a pass at home, or trade it in for a more credit-card-like plastic pass.

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