Senator James Skoufis (D-Cornwall) joined the Palisades Interstate Park Commission and local veterans to announce Governor Hochul’s signing of his bill, S.3309A. The legislation is a bipartisan initiative that aims to honor New York State’s more than a half million veterans and Gold Star families - spouses, children, parents or siblings whose loved ones made the ultimate sacrifice - by granting them free access to the state’s more than 8,600 parks, public campsites, and recreational areas.
This significant achievement, announced at Bear Mountain State Park, reflects a concerted effort to express recognition for the selfless service of the country’s military. By waiving entry costs, veterans will have new opportunities to create lasting memories while experiencing New York’s breathtaking natural surroundings.
“This initiative represents a humble token of gratitude for the service offered by our brave veterans, all of whom helped protect our great nation and freedoms,” said Skoufis. “In providing no-cost access to our state parks and recreational areas, veterans will be able to better enjoy precious time with loved ones within the very landscapes they valiantly defended. To all those who served, know that you have my deepest respect and gratitude.”
“The waiver of fees is a highly deserved thank you to our veterans for their dedicated service to our nation. We hope many who served will take advantage of this expanded access, and I know our park staff will be proud to wave each veteran through,” said Palisades Interstate Park Commission Executive Director Joshua Laird. “Time spent outside in our parks can be a prescription for the physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being of all visitors, but we hope it is an especially important benefit for those in the veterans’ community who need it. State Parks Commissioner Erik Kulleseid and I would like to thank Senator Skoufis for his leadership and ongoing support for our parks.”
“Part of our Outdoor Rx Program is to make sure we get vets together. This legislation allows us to park at these sites for free, and use all of the state parks for our gatherings. It saves us money, and brings more veterans out. I thank everyone involved who pushed this initiative forward.” said BRIDGES Director of Veteran Peer Services Mark Woods.
“All the parks and recreational sites around here are brimming with all kinds of history. It’s wonderful that myself, and other veterans can enjoy them. I thank Senator Skoufis and Governor Hochul for all their efforts.” said American Legion Post 353 Commander Jim Kline.
Skoufis has long sought to bring overdue resources to local veterans, including his announcement in 2022 of over $750,000 to help American Legion and VFW posts in Orange County renovate their aging facilities.