U.S. Rep. Chiding NPS for Sequester Signage
U.S. Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., is investigating the amount the National Park Service spent on signs blaming closures on sequestration cuts, including one at Linville Falls Campground along the Blue Ridge Parkway near Ashville,N.C., the Ashville Citizen-Times reported.
The Highlands Republican joined U.S. Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., chairman of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, in an April 22 letter asking the secretary of the Department of Interior for information about the signs.
The sign at the campground, located near Linville Gorge, tells visitors the site is closed in red hand-written letters and announces an “operational change due to sequestration.”
The campground is set to open May 24.
“Posting professionally printed metal signs that claim sequestration has forced park closures, such as those posted at Linville Falls Campground in the 11th District, is nothing more than a wasteful political statement,” Meadows said in a written statement on Tuesday.
Park Service Director Jonathan Jarvis recently told the oversight committee that he was unaware of any signs but said they are “inappropriate” and would be taken down.
Parkway interim Superintendent Monika Mayr said the sign has since been taken down.
“We got word that the message on the sign was not appropriate,” she said.
The Linville sign was the only one on the parkway that mentioned sequestration, she said. A new sign will go up at the campground, and the nine other closed attractions, telling visitors the location of the next closest open area.
The parkway has its own shop to take care of the 14,000 signs along the road so the cost to produce the sign was low, she said.
“It would be like making a Xerox on a Xerox machine,” she said.
Sequestration is a series of mandated government cutbacks meant to reduce the deficit.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park is also using signs to tell visitors that sites are closed, though the signs do not mention sequestration, said spokeswoman Dana Soehn.
The signs at Balsam Mountain, Look Rock and Abrams Creek campgrounds and two picnic areas nearby are the same signs the park uses for its seasonal closures. The park simply left the signs up, she said.
The oversight committee is seeking the total amount spent on the signs at all parks, a list of all signs referring to sequestration, and communications between Interior Department, Park Service and President Obama’s office about signs.
“The National Park Service should not be permitted to use money from hardworking taxpayers to advance its own political agenda,” Meadows said.