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Library patrons clamoring for ParkPasses
Visitors can earn free admission to sites
Crystal Chastain, a stay-at-home mom from Jefferson, pulls a book off the shelf Tuesday as she browses at the Jefferson Public Library. The library is participating in the ParkPass Program, which provides free parking or admission to state parks. - photo by SARA GUEVARA

ParkPass program

Thinking about visiting one of Georgia’s state parks or historic sites? Here are a few of the places you can get free admission or parking using one of the park passes from your local library:

  • Fort Yargo, Winder
  • Dahlonega Gold Museum and Historic Site, Dahlonega
  • Smithgall Woods Conservation Area and Lodge, Helen
  • Hofwyl-Broadfield Plantation Historic Site, Brunswick
  • Red Top Mountain State Park and Lodge, Cartersville
  • Tallulah Gorge State Park, Tallulah

Before you pack up for a trip to a state park or historic site, you may want to stop by your local library first.

For the second year in a row, Georgia libraries are implementing the ParkPass program in partnership with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources. "It works just like a book. Library (patrons) can check the passes out for one week," said Alan Harkness, director of the Piedmont Regional Library System, which includes Jackson, Banks and Barrow counties.

With the passes, library card holders can get free parking or admission to more than 60 Georgia state parks and historic sites.

"The program was very popular during the summer last year," said Amy Carlan, a librarian at the Jefferson Public Library.

"It was easy to use and we had people calling about it all the time."

With just two passes available per location, Harkness says that patrons of the Piedmont system have checked the passes out more than 80 times since the program started last June.

"People are just clamoring for us to get the new passes in," Harkness said "They’re driving us nuts calling about them, but it’s a good kind of nuts because we want the people to come in and use them."

According to Harkness, local libraries should receive its 2009 passes any day now.

Although more than dozens of sites are covered by the pass, there are some locations, such as Lake Lanier, Stone Mountain and Chattahoochee River National Recreation areas, that are not operated by the state and therefore do not accept the passes.

Among the sites library patrons can visit with the ParkPass are the Etowah Indian Mounds Historic Site in Cartersville and Amicalola Falls State Park and Lodge in Dawsonville.

To check out the passes, patrons simply need a valid library card from a participating library. Library systems in Hall and Jackson counties are participating in the program.

"This is a pretty nice introduction for the people who want to explore state parks," said Adrian Mixson, director of the Hall County Library System. "Our patrons seem to enjoy it and it is a great way to encourage Georgians to discover home."