Sequestration Means Big Cuts for Park System
The automatic budget cuts set to take effect on March 1 will delay the opening of the East and West Rim drives at the Grand Canyon and reduce hours of operation at the main visitor center. At Gettysburg, 20% of student education programs would be eliminated this spring.
According to a Washington Post report, the Blue Ridge Parkway would lose 21 seasonal interpretive ranger programs, resulting in the closure of half of the park’s visitor stations and leaving 80 miles between each one.
Mount Rainer would permanently close a key visitor center, and Glacier would delay the opening of a well-visited mountain pass.
Five campgrounds and picnics area would close at the Great Smoky Mountains, affecting 54,000 visitors, and the Grand Tetons would close a visitor center, information station and preserve.
These are some new details that have emerged this week of how the National Parks Service would implement a 5.1% across-the-board reduction if Congress does not avert $85 billion in spending cuts across the federal government. A Park Service memo obtained by park advocates and provided to The Washington Post outlines some of the cuts, which would affect direct services to visitors from grass cutting to access to rangers and mountain passes.
The Post also reported that park advocates are pressuring Congress to avert a $110 million cut to the system, which would affect every park, from the National Mall to Yellowstone.