Sequestration Could Hit National Parks at Height of Tourism Season

Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming Beth Harpaz/AP

The U.S. National Park Service could face serious staffing shortfalls if across-the-board budget cuts from sequestration kick in on March 1, and tourists would likely lose access to some popular attractions.

In a policy memo released to the Washington Post on Wednesday, NPS said sequestration would force the agency to cut into its already slim operating budget. The automatic cuts would slice off an immediate 5 percent from the agency’s budget that would “defer the replacement of vacant staff positions,” reduce temporary seasonal hiring, and cause the furloughs of permanent staff if cost reduction targets are not met, the memo said. The cuts would also reduce the amount of money spent on park maintenance, equipment purchases, travel and educational programs.

“Most parks have already minimized expenses in these categories over the past few years and will not be able to achieve significant savings in this area,” the memo said.

All 398 national parks are determining the specific impact of budget cuts on their operations, the memo said, warning that major attractions would need to reduce staff and hours at the peak of the summer tourist season.

Popular destinations that would be affected by sequestratrion budget cuts include:  

  • Cape Cod, where a visitor center servicing 260,000 tourists annually would be shuttered.
  • Great Smoky Mountains National Park, where 5 campgrounds would be closed.
  • Yosemite National Park and Yellowstone National Park, where the opening of new roads and visitor service centers would be delayed.
  • The Blue Ridge Parkway, where fewer seasonal rangers at visitor centers would be hired, possibly affecting 584,000 visitors.

While the memo did not elaborate on potential economic repercussions, they are likely to be steep. A 2010 paper published by the NPS and Michigan State University said that tourism spending at national parks contributed to $31 billion in economic activity, affecting nearly 300,000 jobs nationally.

John Garder, a government affairs representative at the National Parks Conservation Association, said the cuts would disproportionately affect local economies that depend on tourism money. He said NPS has been grappling with underfunding for years and sequestration would erode the service that the American people expect from their parks.

“This sequester was never intended to be policy, and American families will be deeply disappointed if this becomes a reality,” Garder said. “National parks are not part of the deficit problem, and given all the jobs they’re supporting, they are part of the solution.”

Time Until Sequester:

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by G Suite

    Cross-Agency Teamwork, Anytime and Anywhere

    Dan McCrae, director of IT service delivery division, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

    Download
  • Data-Centric Security vs. Database-Level Security

    Database-level encryption had its origins in the 1990s and early 2000s in response to very basic risks which largely revolved around the theft of servers, backup tapes and other physical-layer assets. As noted in Verizon’s 2014, Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR)1, threats today are far more advanced and dangerous.

    Download
  • Federal IT Applications: Assessing Government's Core Drivers

    In order to better understand the current state of external and internal-facing agency workplace applications, Government Business Council (GBC) and Riverbed undertook an in-depth research study of federal employees. Overall, survey findings indicate that federal IT applications still face a gamut of challenges with regard to quality, reliability, and performance management.

    Download
  • PIV- I And Multifactor Authentication: The Best Defense for Federal Government Contractors

    This white paper explores NIST SP 800-171 and why compliance is critical to federal government contractors, especially those that work with the Department of Defense, as well as how leveraging PIV-I credentialing with multifactor authentication can be used as a defense against cyberattacks

    Download
  • Toward A More Innovative Government

    This research study aims to understand how state and local leaders regard their agency’s innovation efforts and what they are doing to overcome the challenges they face in successfully implementing these efforts.

    Download
  • From Volume to Value: UK’s NHS Digital Provides U.S. Healthcare Agencies A Roadmap For Value-Based Payment Models

    The U.S. healthcare industry is rapidly moving away from traditional fee-for-service models and towards value-based purchasing that reimburses physicians for quality of care in place of frequency of care.

    Download
  • GBC Flash Poll: Is Your Agency Safe?

    Federal leaders weigh in on the state of information security

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.