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Congress Approves $70 Increase for Senior Lifetime Park Pass

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LOS FRESNOS - The price of the National Parks and Federal Recreational lands senior pass will increase $70 on Aug. 28.

Martha Ozbun is 78 years old. She is chalked full of energy and adventure. Ozbun moved to the Rio Grande Valley from a small town in Arkansas 33 years ago.

Her dream is to trek across America visiting as many wildlife refuges as possible over the next few years. 

"I enjoy the outdoors so it's right up my alley," Ozbun said.

CHANNEL 5 NEWS found Ozbun at Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife refuge buying a national parks and federal recreational lands senior pass.  She made the trip to the refuge on Tuesday because she wanted to buy her pass before the price increases on Aug. 28.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Park Ranger Marion Mason explained the price increase is due to orders from Washington.

"There is some recent legislation that was passed in Congress  that is going to raise the price of the federal senior pass from $10 for a lifetime pass to $80 for a lifetime pass," Mason told CHANNEL 5 NEWS.

She said the lifetime pass is available to seniors who are U.S. citizens and 62 or older. The pass waves entrance fees at sites managed by the National Park Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and U.S. Forest Service among other government agencies throughout the nation.

Mason explained the price increase will be used to better maintain those sites.

"The legislation was passed as a way to raise additional funds to take care of some of the backlog of infrastructure projects at federal lands that the national parks and wildlife refuges. We need road improvements and building improvements," Mason said.

She told CHANNEL 5 NEWS Valley residents who qualify can buy the pass at either the Laguna Atascosa  or the Santa Ana national wildlife refuge until Aug. 28. It can also be purchased online at the U.S. Geological Survey website.

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