The truth is that every federal agency and those who depend on federal spending will be in a world of hurt. So I wonder why Park Service cuts are getting higher levels of coverage or attention?
In some stories, like this one in today’s Denver Post, the retirees seem to be leading the charge.
Rocky Mountain National Park, which also manages the Cache La Poudre River basin, could see $623,000 slashed from its remaining fiscal 2013 budget unless President Barack Obama and Congress reach an agreement to stave off across-the-board spending cuts set to take effect in less than three weeks.
Alarm has been sounded by the Coalition of National Park Service Retirees concerning proposed 5 percent budget reductions for the National Park Service.
Colorado is home to 13 national parks, three national heritage areas and numerous other assets under Park Service management, according to the agency’s website.
“This will have ripple effects across the American economy,” said Joan Anzelmo, a spokeswoman for the retired employees coalition who now lives in Jackson Hole, Wyo. Her organization represents more than 900 former National Park Service personnel.
In this one, there are “leaked documents”..
Leaked documents from National Park Service Director Jonathan Jarvis give us a glimpse at the looming budget crisis that threatens to alter the operating landscape for America’s national parks. The documents paint a dire picture for the NPS and could have a major impact on the overall experience for visitors to the parks in 2013 and beyond.
In a letter from Jarvis dated January 25 of this year, regional, associate and assistant NPS directors are warned that unless Congress and President Obama can come to a fiscal agreement in the next few weeks, they will be asked to make 5% cuts to their budgets across the board. Having already missed a January 2 deadline for the sequestration of funds, the House and Senate have passed a law extending that deadline to March 1. Ahead of that date, the Park Service has already instituted a hiring freeze and has asked for recommendations from the management of each of its entities on where cuts should be made.
In addition to the immediate hiring freeze, the parks have been asked to continue planning for their seasonal hiring, but to not extend any offers until further notice. As the busy summer travel season nears, many of the parks hire temporary employees to help deal with the influx of visitors. For now, filling those positions has been put on the back burner. Furthermore, furloughed employees are to remain so for as long as possible, while overtime has been cut altogether. All non-essential travel has also been canceled and the purchasing of supplies has been cut as the organization strives to save cash.
A second leaked document shows the actual budgets of each of the parks and how much they are being asked to cut in order to make the 5% goal. Some of the hardest hit national parks include Yellowstone, which is being asked to cut $1.75 million, and Yosemite, which will lose $1.4 million in operating expenses. Those two locations aren’t the only ones feeling the pinch, however, as the National Mall will also shed $1.6 million from its budget and the Grand Canyon will cut an additional $1 million.
Unless the budget sequestration is averted before March 1, these cuts could have a dramatic impact on the national park experience for travelers. Understaffed and under-budgeted parks could lead to reduced hours of operation, shorter overall seasons and even the potential closure of certain areas. Visitor services would also likely be hit hard with fewer rangers on duty and less staff in visitor centers and information kiosks.
I do think that the budget process of identifying by unit makes the cuts more concrete to Congressfolks, who are the people who have to act.
Do you think it’s a useful exercise for retirees to raise this issue?