National Parks May Have Short Seasons, Closures in 2013
Congressional budget dispute may hit parks hard, impact visitors as soon as March 1
Planning a trip to Yellowstone or brand new Pinnacles National Park this summer? You might want to wait until March to buy that plane ticket.
Closures, shorter hours and neglected trails may be on order if Congress fails to resolve its ongoing budget dispute, according to a recent National Parks Service memo obtained by National Parks Traveler.
The looming cuts, known as sequestration, would slash 5 percent from the budget of the NPS on March 1, unless a deal is reached in Congress.
“We expect that a cut of this magnitude, intensified by the lateness of the implementation, will result in reductions to visitor services, hours of operation, shortening of seasons and possibly the closing of areas during periods when there is insufficient staff to ensure the protection of visitors, employees [and] resources,” said NPS director Jonathan Jarvis in the memo.
He called upon regional directors to draw up plans for the cuts, ordering hiring freezes, reducing seasonal personnel, and extending employee furloughs.
“For now, you should continue your seasonal hiring plans, but delay making offers,” said Jarvis, in the memo. “Hopefully, the budget issue will be resolved in time to allow you to complete your seasonal hiring,” he added.
According to additional documents obtained by National Parks Traveler, Yellowstone would lose $1.75 million of its 2013 budget, which currently stands at $35 million. Other cuts would include $1.4 million from Yosemite and $1 million from Grand Canyon National Park.
The NPS declined to comment for this story and the White House’s Office of Management and Budget did not reply as of press time.