February 26, 2013
National Park Service preparing for sequestration cuts
By IRENE NOLAN
National Park Service has been planning for months for cuts to the
parks’ budgets if mandatory across-the-board spending cuts in federal
funding, called sequestration, become effective on Friday.
cuts are expected to happen unless Congress passes legislation before
Friday that would stop them. Thus far, neither Congress nor the President
seem inclined to stop the process.
The Outer Banks Group, which
includes the Cape Hatteras National Seashore, is facing slashing its
$9.5 million budget for 2013 by $477,000.
All park units were required to submit plans for the cuts by Feb. 11.
published on various websites this month have included an NPS summary
of park impacts, a memo from NPS director Jonathan Jarvis to regional
directors, and instruments for planning the cuts and reporting them.
freezes have already been placed on hiring permanent employees. Parks
may continue hiring plans for temporary seasonal employees, but cannot
make any offers – even as the seashore and other park units begin
preparations for the heavy summer tourist season.
In a media
release issued yesterday, Interior secretary Ken Salazar and Jarvis
warned that mandatory budget cuts will result in reduced hours of
operation for visitor centers, shorter seasons, and possibly closing
campgrounds, hiking trails, and other recreations areas “when there is
insufficient staff to ensure the protection of visitors, staff, and
They warned that the reduced hours and service will
affect not only America’s 398 national parks but also 561 national
wildlife refuges and more than 268 public land units.
the fallout from the budget cuts is the result of the ban on temporary
seasonal employees, which keep many park programs going in the tourist
At Cape Hatteras, temporary interpretative, maintenance,
and resources employees lead visitor programs at the parks, staff the
visitor centers, collect trash from campgrounds and other public
places, and even monitor threatened birds and turtles.
remain hopeful that the situation is resolved and these cuts will be
avoided,” Outer Banks Group Superintendent Barclay Trimble said in an
e-mail today. “…the Outer Banks Group, like every government agency and
NPS unit, has been asked to prepare plans in the event that
sequestration happens. Our planning process is still ongoing.
If the sequestration in not resolved, the public should be
prepared for reduced hours and services provided by the Outer Banks
Cyndy Holda, public information specialist for the
Outer Banks Group, said today that if sequestration happens, visitors
will not immediately begin noticing the impacts on Friday but it will
happen more gradually as programs and visitor services begin revving up
For instance, the NPS campgrounds at Oregon Inlet, Frisco, and Ocracoke are scheduled to open April 5.
seasonal maintenance employees to do such things as collect garbage,
the campgrounds may have to delay opening or open only a part of the
area for visitors.
The Park Service declined to release the
specific plans that the Outer Banks Group submitted because, she said,
“We don’t know if it will be needed yet.”
In its summary of park impacts, the NPS gave some examples from early plans it had received.
otherwise noted, the memo said, the impacts are the direct result of
fewer seasonal employees and lapsed permanent positions. The impacts
are broken down in three areas – reduced visitor access, including
delays and closures; reduced visitor services, including youth
programs, and reduced resource management, including wildlife and
invasive species impacts.
Here are a few of them:
the reduction of seasonal natural resource management positions, Cape
Cod National Seashore would be forced to reduce visitor access to large
sections of the Great Beach in order to protect nesting
shorebirds. The nesting birds require daily monitoring, which a
reduced staff could not provide.
- At Natchez Trace Parkway, a reduction in seasonal employees will cause closure of 25 comfort stations one day per week.
Ridge Parkway would cut 21 seasonal interpretive ranger positions,
resulting in the closure of seven visitor center-contact stations.
Cod National Seashore will close the Province Lands Visitor Center for
the season. It is the lesser used of two visitor centers.
- Great Smoky Mountains National Park will close five remote campgrounds and picnic areas as a result of seasonal staffing.
- Yellowstone National Park would delay spring road opening operations. Visitor access to several areas will be delayed by weeks.
Grand Canyon National Park would delay the opening of the East and West Rim drives.
comments from Salazar and Jarvis came yesterday as the NPS released a
2011 report about the economic impacts of the parks on local
The reports says that the parks continue to be
“important economic engines for local communities” nationwide, with
visitors generating $30.1 billion in economic activity and supporting
The report shows that in 2011 almost 2.7 million
visitors to Cape Hatteras National Seashore, Fort Raleigh National
Historic Site, and Wright Brothers National Memorial spent a total of
more than $131 million in communities surrounding the parks. This
spending supported approximately 1,800 jobs in the area.
visitor spending supports jobs in lodging, food, and beverage service
(63 percent), followed by recreation and entertainment (17 percent),
other retail (11 percent), transportation and fuel (7 percent), and
wholesale and manufacturing (2 percent.)
The report is a
peer-reviewed spending analysis of national park visitors across the
country conducted by Michigan State University for the National Park
To download the report visit: http://www.nature.nps.gov/socialscience/products.cfm#MGM
and click on Economic Benefits to Local Communities from National Park
Visitation and Payroll, 2011. The report includes information for
visitor spending at individual parks and by state.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Click here to read an NPS memo, entitled “Summary of Park Impacts – Patterns Among Early Submissions.” Sequester—nps memo
to see a list of national parks, historic sites, and national monuments
and the amount of money that must be cut from their budgets under
sequestration. Sequestration in nps planning
Click here to read a memo from NPS Director Jonathan Jarvis on sequester planning. Sequester-jarvis memo
Click here to read an NPS document on instructions for sequestration planning. Sequester instructions
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