A highly publicized and controversial policy allowing a ban on water bottles in national parks is being reversed by the federal government.
The National Park Service on Aug. 16 said the agency is discontinuing the 2011 policy that had been implemented at 23 of 417 park service locations.
"While we will continue to encourage the use of free water bottle filling stations as appropriate, ultimately it should be up to our visitors to decide how best to keep themselves and their families hydrated during a visit to a national park, particularly during hot summer visitation periods," said Acting National Park Service Director Michael T. Reynolds said in a statement.
The "ban" actually pushed the decision down to the local park level, but only allowed elimination after an analysis of the pros and cons for such a move.
"The issues surrounding plastic water bottles are complex. Banning the sale of water bottles in national parks has great symbolism, but runs counter to our healthy food initiative as it eliminates the healthiest choice for bottled drinks," reads the 2011 policy memorandum addressing the issue.
Reversal of the ban is effective immediately, the park service said.
"Parks will continue to promote the recycling of disposable plastic water bottles and many parks have already worked with partners to provide free potable water in bottle filling stations located at visitor centers and near trailheads, the agency said in announcing the reversal.