US Forest Service waives visitor fees for MLK Day

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The U.S. Forest Service is waving some visitor fees at all national forests this weekend in honor of the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, including forests here in Southern California.

The fee waivers are in effect through Monday in all parts of the nearly 700,000-acre San Bernardino National Forest.

That means visitors don’t have to pay the "Adventure Pass" entry fee for hiking, fishing and other activities.

The San Bernardino forest’s public affairs officer Valerie Baca says the waivers are in part an effort to boost economic activity near national forests and parkland. “The Park Service is doing it as well as the Forest Service, the land management agencies are doing it. And basically we do it to stimulate interest in the mountains, and if fee waivers can inspire or encourage visitors, then that’s our ultimate goal."

Visitors to the Angeles National Forest won’t have to pay entry fees either. But campground, reservation and concession fees may still be in effect.

Joshua Tree National Monument will forgo its $15–a-vehicle entrance fee through the long weekend.

Baca says the fee waivers, along with the unseasonably warm weather, could attract more visitors than usual to the San Bernardino Mountains.

“A lot of our sites that normally are not accessible are accessible this year because of the warmer temperatures," Baca said, "and it's more appealing to be in the mountains when it's warmer.”

But the warmer days come with higher risk of winter wildfires. Gusty winds and dry conditions prompted the Forest Service to impose restrictions, including a ban on campfires and outdoor stoves outside designated camping and picnic areas.

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