Will Sequestration Whack the National Parks?
Closed access roads to Yosemite, Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks, restricted beach access at Cape Cod, shuttered visitor centers, closed campgrounds, and reduced emergency staff are likely on order for travelers to national parks this year.
Last month we reported that looming federal budget cuts, known as sequestration, could lead to short seasons and closures at national parks, beginning March 1.
As the deadline for a Congressional deal to prevent the cuts draws near with no resolution in sight, details have emerged about how specific parks will be affected, and they’re not pretty.
According to a survey conducted by the Coalition of National Parks Service Retirees, the mandated cuts will lead to delayed openings and reduced services in “crown jewel” parks like Yellowstone, whose access roads will stay closed for an additional two to four weeks, and Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which will shutter five camp and picnic grounds and reduce road maintenance in heavily trafficked areas prone to rockslides and fallen trees.
Although only a 5-percent cut to the remaining $2.2 billion of this year's NPS budget, the impact will be outsized due to thin margins in the already small Congressional allocation. For example, no rangers to ensure the safety of nesting bird sites in Cape Cod means reduced access to beaches for hundreds of thousands of people—not to mention reduced conservation efforts.
The NPS Retirees noted impacts on several other parks:
• Grand Teton National Park will shut down multiple visitor centers.
• Denali National Park in Alaska will delay plowing for its spring access road.
• Grand Canyon will delay opening some scenic drives and reduce hours at its main visitor center.
For the full list, visit NPSRetirees.org.
The National Parks Service did not reply for confirmation as of press time.