Budget Woes Close 4 California Campgrounds
The federal budget, or more precisely the national debt and the attempts to reduce it, are being felt in California with U.S. Forest Service campground closures and reduced hours at some visitors centers.
The Inyo National Forest in eastern California is having to take some drastic measures to balance its budget this fiscal year, and in unprecedented actions is closing some campgrounds and reducing services and interpretive programs at visitor centers in the middle of the summer, Forest Supervisor Ed Armenta said in a press release.
In line with the reduction in staff capabilities and to further reduce costs, the following campgrounds have been closed for the summer: Upper Deadman, Lower Deadman, Hartley Springs and Obsidian Group Camp, The Inyo Register, Bishop, reported.
As of July 31, reductions in hours and services at Visitor Centers, from north to south, will be in effect until further notice.
This year, all of the national forests received their budgets much later than normal, with the Inyo National Forest receiving a final budget on June 15. The final budget was significantly lower than what had been projected, particularly in the areas of recreation and wilderness, Armenta said.
According to Armenta, for the past month, Inyo National Forest leadership has “struggled with how to balance their budget and they have been working with many of their partners in an attempt to maintain as high a level of public service and resource protection as possible.”
Armenta noted many partners, including the Eastern Sierra Interpretive Association, Friends of the Inyo, the Town of Mammoth Lakes, and the National Park Service, have stepped up to help, but even all that assistance can only go so far.
Over the past couple of weeks, in an attempt to reduce costs, the Forest Service has reduced staff by seven temporary employees who had been hired for the summer, has moved a couple of employees to grant-funded programs, and has not filled several vacancies that had been slated to be filled, including the key staff positions of Forest Recreation Officer and Forest Resource Officer.