March 16, 2013

UPDATE: Seashore will hire seasonal workers after all


Cape Hatteras National Seashore officials got good news last week.

Darrell Echols, the seashore’s deputy superintendent, said Friday that the Outer Banks Group learned that the freeze on hiring seasonal workers was being lifted for parks that managed to meet their forced cuts under sequestration by other means.

Park officials, he said, are pushing ahead with hiring seasonals who will keep the park running during the busy tourist season.

Park units were encouraged to keep interviewing and vetting seasonals, even during the hiring freeze, so the seashore was ready to start making job offers.

The seashore will have about the same number of seasonal workers as it did last year, and, therefore, Echols said visitors should not notice any difference in services.

Campgrounds will open, though Oregon Inlet, Frisco, and Ocracoke campgrounds will open on April 19, rather than April 5.

The Cape Hatteras Lighthouse will open on schedule on Friday, April 19, for climbing and will remain open, as usual, to Columbus Day.  There will be no cutback in climbing hours.

The Bodie Island Lighthouse will also open on schedule on April 19 for its first season of climbing after a renovation of the tower and the first-order Fresnel lens.

There will be no change in Visitor Center hours.

Rangers will lead a full program of interpretive programs on such things has history and ecology and conduct a full schedule of activity programs, such as snorkeling and exploring the sound and marshes.

Echols said it is hoped that by Memorial Day weekend, the seashore will have hired and trained its full complement of lifeguards for Coquina Beach, Buxton Beach, and Ocracoke Day Use Center.  However, he added, that the process for hiring lifeguards is slower, so there is still a chance that all won’t be hired by the end of May and some adjustments in lifeguarded-beach schedules could be needed.

Echols said that the National Park Service units were asked to plan for a 5 percent across the board cut.  At the seashore that amounts to $477,000 out of a $9.5 million budget.

The seashore will meets its budget cuts by a hiring freeze on open positions and saving on such expenses as travel, training, and supplies and equipment.

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