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During the 2015-16 school year, fourth grade students are likely to become the vacation and long-weekend planners in their families.

President Barack Obama announced an incentive to get American children into the national parks in advance of the National Park Service centennial in 2016 — free admission.

Under the "Every Kid in a Park" initiative, families with fourth graders can get free entry into the national parks and other federal lands for a year.

"This bold new initiative reflects the administration's appreciation of and dedication to connecting the next generation of outdoors enthusiasts to our national parks and public lands," said David Nimkin, southwest senior regional director of the National Parks Conservation Association based in Salt Lake City. "It will help connect them to nature and to our rich history and heritage as a nation."

The National Park Foundation — the nonprofit partner of the National Park Service — will cover a portion of the cost.

The president unveiled the initiative Thursday in Chicago while announcing the formation of three new national monuments: Browns Canyon in Colorado; the Honouliuli internment camp in Hawaii and Pullman National Monument in Illinois.

Other aspects of the "Every Kid in a Park" initiative include:

— More information and resources will be provided to help teachers and families find programs and nearby public lands.

— The Ticket to Ride program — which awards transportation grants for kids to visit parks, public lands and waters — will be expanded to focus on schools that exhibit the most need.

— Federal land agencies will develop more educational programs and tools to help teachers and families connect with the public lands.

— And the president's 2016 budget includes $45 million for youth engagement throughout the Department of Interior. Nearly half of that — $20 million — would get 1 million fourth-graders from low-income areas to national parks.

"We applaud the president for making our children's interaction with the outdoors a national priority," said Steve Barker, interim executive director of OIA, which holds the twice yearly Outdoor Retailer Market tradeshows in Salt Lake City. "We are all born with the innate desire to explore the outdoors."

Twitter: @BrettPrettyman