Park Service Identifies Sequestration Cuts
Sequestration will cut visitor access to the rim of the Grand Canyon, delay the spring opening of portions of Yellowstone and Yosemite, reduce emergency response help for drivers in the Great Smoky Mountains, limit access to the beach at the Cape Cod National Seashore and impair the experiences in many other ways for millions of visitors at America’s national parks.
In addition, local, regional and state economies that depend on national parks will take hits as visitors are either turned away or skip visits due to the impact of the sequestration budget cuts, according to a news release.
According to new National Park Service (NPS) information acquired by the Coalition of National Park Service Retirees (CNPSR), details are now emerging for how sequestration-related cuts will be implemented in America’s national parks. Late last month, CNPSR drew attention to the NPS sequester cuts when it published internal NPS memos outlining the total dollar cuts that would be imposed on individual national parks.
Sequestration will result in a reduced workforce, shutdowns of certain national park areas altogether or for extended period of times, closure of visitor centers and services, restrictions on the availability of campgrounds, visitor centers, comfort stations, and trail and other backcountry access. Additionally, the ability to respond to emergencies including wildland fires will be reduced.
New NPS information highlights the following specific cuts at major parks:
- Yellowstone National Park will delay spring road opening operations inside the park and to the west, south, east and northeast entrances. Savings would come from a combination of reduced or delayed seasonal hiring, extended unpaid furloughs for employees, and reduced operating expenses including fuel, equipment and maintenance.
- Grand Canyon National Park will delay opening the East and West Rim Drives and reduce hours of operation at the main Grand Canyon Visitor Center.
- Yosemite National Park will delay the opening of the Tioga and Glacier Point roads by as much as four weeks due to limitations on snow removal resulting from reduced staffing.
- Glacier National Park will delay opening the Going-to-the-Sun Road by two weeks, the only road which provides access to the entire park.
- Grand Teton National Park will close the Jenny Lake Visitor Center, the Laurence S. Rockefeller Preserve and the Flagg Ranch Visitor Contact Station for the summer season.
- Great Smoky Mountains National Park will close five campgrounds and picnic areas.
- Cape Cod National Seashore will close the Province Lands Visitor
- Center for the season due to inability to staff and maintain it.
- Natchez Trace Parkway will reduce seasonal employees and close 25 comfort stations one day per week.
- Mount Rainier National Park will close the Ohanapecosh Visitor Center.
- Denali National Park will have seasonal staff shortages resulting in delayed plowing operations of Denali's spring road, postponing the opening of the Eielson Visitor Center.