The Nantahala National Forest will waive fees at Whiteside Mountain and Whitewater Falls on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Jan. 15, the first of six fee-free days the U.S. Forest Service uses as an extra incentive to encourage people to visit national forests and grasslands.

The fee waiver program is in cooperation with other federal land management agencies under the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act. Fees are waived generally for day-use areas where fees are typically charged to help provide amenities for visitors' comfort and convenience. No fees are charged at any time on 98 percent of national forests and grasslands, and approximately two-thirds of developed recreation sites in national forests and grasslands can be used for free.

Additional Forest Service fee-free days in 2018 are:

- Feb. 19 - Presidents Day
- June 9 - National Get Outdoors Day, an event to encourage healthy, active outdoor fun
- Sept. 22 - National Public Lands Day, the nation's largest, single-day volunteer effort for public lands
- Nov. 10-11 - Veterans Day Weekend

The Pisgah National Forest will waive fees at the Cradle of Forestry and Roan Mountain on June 9 and Sept 22. These sites are normally closed for the season on the remaining fee-free days.

The other federal land management agencies - Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Reclamation, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Park Service, U.S. Army Corp of Engineers - determine their fee-free schedule.

The annual $80 Interagency Annual Pass allows unlimited entrance to more than 2,000 federal recreation areas. There are also free or discounted passes available for senior citizens, current members of the military, families of fourth-grade students, disabled citizens, and volunteers. Learn more passes and permits at

National forests and grasslands are working lands that provide a multitude of benefits to the American public, including contributing more than $30 billion annually to the American economy and supporting nearly 360,000 jobs. Recreation alone accounts for more than $9 billion in annual visitor spending.

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