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FARMINGTON — The Bureau of Land Management's Farmington Field Office, in conjunction with other federal land management agencies, is giving out an "Every Kid in a Park" pass to area fourth graders, granting them free access to America's natural wonders.

According to a BLM news release, the program's goal is to provide an opportunity for every fourth grade student across the U.S. to experience federal public lands and waters in person.

"Connecting the nation’s youth to the great outdoors is even more important at a time when 80 percent of American families live in cities. A goal of this annual program is to inspire successive generations to become responsible stewards of our nation’s natural and cultural heritage," the release states.

Students who are in the fourth grade – or home-school/free choice students ages 9-11 years old – can sign up for the program and participate in an online activity by visiting everykidinapark.gov. Students will receive a free fourth-grade pass voucher that they can print and take to national parks, forests, monuments and historic sites across the country for free admission.

The pass is valid for the entire fourth grade year, from Sept. 1 to Aug. 31.

Students can visit the BLM office in Farmington at 6251 N. College Blvd., Suite A, if they want to exchange the paper pass for a hard-plastic, keepsake version.

In addition to the BLM's Farmington Field Office, the pass is available at the Aztec Ruins National Monument in Aztec.

Danielle York, lead interpretive ranger at Aztec Ruins, said the pass covers entry fees for the student and up to three adults and it can be used at locations as such Aztec Ruins, Chaco Culture National Historical Park, Mesa Verde National Park and Grand Canyon National Park.

"It's a way to encourage families to visit national parks," she said.

The Obama Administration launched the initiative on Sept. 1, 2015 to provide the opportunity for students and families to visit national parks and other federal lands and waters, according to the program's website.

York said Aztec Ruins issues about 400 passes each year.

"We do see them come back in with family and friends," she said about students utilizing passes.

For more information, contact the BLM's Farmington Field Office at 505-564-7600 or e-mail zstone@blm.gov.

Reporter Noel Lyn Smith contributed to this report.

Leigh Black Irvin is the business editor for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4621.

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