National Parks May Lose Out With Budget Cuts

nps logoWoodstock Early Birds, we know there are plenty of  local financial concerns (especially with Town Meeting a week from Saturday) but federal budget cuts which could go into effect March 1st are likely to have an effect right here in Woodstock at Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historic Park. 

We spoke briefly with Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller’s Head of Interpretation, Tim Maguire,  at Vermont’s only National Park about the issue.  He said officials there are aware of the potential for budgets being reduced and are looking at plans should that happen. However, at this point, Maguire says it is too early to say if the “MABI” budget will have to re-worked and most certainly too early to say if any fulltime or seasonal employee positions (Interpretive Park Rangers) will be lost.

We are interested in this issue since, yes, because Woodstock Early Bird has worked as an NPS ranger but also after reading this blog entry , written by Susan Elderkin, from the Washington (State) Trails Association concerning “Sequestration” and Mount Rainier National Park:

The country’s latest fiscal stand-off, known widely as “sequestration,” is set to commence on March 1. Should Congress and President Obama fail to come to a fiscal agreement, one of the primary consequences would be five percent across-the-board budget cuts. Leaked documents from the National Park Service demonstrate the broad and adverse impacts that these cuts would cause, including more than $1.6 million in cuts from Washington’s three national parks. Only two options avoid sequestration — agreement around a solution to the problem or passage of a continuing resolution that maintains funding levels at current (or perhaps slightly lower) rates.

In a memo dated January 25, 2013, NPS Director Jonathan Jarvis directed each park unit to make a sequestration plan that reduces its budget by five percent by February 11. New detailsfrom the Coalition of National Park Service Retirees emerged today about what that would mean at some of the largest national parks, including Mount Rainier National Park.

In the meantime, the Park Service has instituted a hiring freeze. This comes at a time when hiring decisions are usually being made for seasonal staff who handle the massive influx of summer crowds. At some parks, it is possible that no seasonal staff would be hired should these cuts become mandatory.

What would a five percent mean for Washington’s three national parks?

  • Mount Rainier National Park, would need to carve $604,000 from a $12.1 million budget. At minimum, this could include the closure of the Ohanapecosh Visitor Center this year.
  • Olympic National Park would have to cut $639,000 from a $12.8 million budget.
  • North Cascades National Park would face a $365,000 reduction from a 7.3 million budget.

Each of these parks rely heavily on seasonal personnel during the busy summer months. Eliminating these positions would have a serious effect on hours of operation, wilderness rangers, preservation, maintenance and much, much more. These cuts could also have a chilling effect on local economies.

The National Park Service also operates six other sites in Washington that would face five percent cuts: San Juan National Historic Preserve, Lake Roosevelt National Recreation Area, Ebey’s Landing National Historic Reserve, Fort Vancouver and the Whitman Mission National Historic Sites and the Klondike Gold Rush Museum.

And, of course, these are examples from just one agency. Sequestration would impact the U.S. Forest Service and other agencies in similar ways, and we can assume that they are having similar discussions that have not been made public. Let’s hope that our elected officials come to their senses and come to a budget agreement before March 1.

http://www.wta.org/signpost/sequestration-national-parks

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/02/21/sequestration-national-parks/1935679/

5 responses to this post.

  1. Do people really think a 5% cut in the budget of the Marsh Billings National Park couldn’t be managed without the sky falling? Where’s the outcry for our taxes increasing 5% annually? They’re connected folks. We’re over $15 trillion in debt. Time for EVERYONE to live within their means.

    WEB Note: Some have asked who the comment author is. Since we have a policy of no anonymous comments on the blog, we can tell you this writer is Hunter Melville of South Woodstock. While we don’t require your email to explain who you are, we do need to have — at some point — your first and last name in order for a comment to be posted. All other comments,no matter how good, are placed in the trash. -WEB

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    • A. We think it would be interesting to have everyone calling for everyone else to “live within their means” to try living at the level of a large percentage of people, ie those who work here at pay rates of $8 to $10/hour, without any health insurance, trying to support not just themselves but famlies, paying mortgages, gas and food.

      B. If you don’t value the National Park Service and its employees, that’s fine, but the Park is part of the overall package that attracts visitors to Woodstock, who can learn about conservation, history, preservation of land and the remarkable contributions of those who lived on the property. It was a remarkable gift to Woodstock and preserving this place is a question of values: What sets us apart from anywhere else and we mean globally as well — we are willing to support parks, environmental education, history and the expertise of the people who work there. When you say the sky won’t fall if the Park has to see reductions of 5%, watch what you say because you may be talking about a neighbor who might loses his or her job. Then, huh, look they have to turn to a government “subsidy” to get by. Then, huh, they don’t have any money to buy consumer goods, large ticket items, homes, medical care. Then, huh, they’re visiting emergency rooms and driving up hospital costs.

      Debt. Yup. Time for EVEYONE to pay their fair share of taxes. WEB

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  2. Posted by Jon Estey on February 22, 2013 at 10:25

    Why are we $15 trillion in debt?

    Let’s see, new estimates for the war costs in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan are $4 trillion (maybe more since we borrowed the money from China and have to pay interest).

    The Bush tax cuts to date have cost the treasury $2.8 trillion in revenue, with another $1 trillion in revenue lost over the next 10 years.

    The military budget has more than doubled since 2001. Even though we have no real enemies except for a few rag-tag terrorist we can take out daily with drones. Yeah, I know, China is taking over the world – spare me!

    Oh and don’t forget the $300-$500 billion a year we don’t collect for tax cheats, and the $100 billion a year in corporate welfare.

    Gosh, we’re looking at an easy $10 trillion right there before we start shutting down the national parks and making grandma eat cat food.

    I don’t think the National Park Service is the problem.

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  3. Couldn’t agree with your more, Jon. I said everyone. That includes the military, and corporate ‘crony’ capitalists. But you have to be an ostrich sticking your head in the sand to believe that increasing taxes is the sole way to get the country’s finances to a ‘sustainable’ level. The same is true for Vermont, just take a look at the lead story in today’s Vermont Standard. There’s similar fear-mongering there: we can’t fix our bridges, or repair Irene damage, run the railroads or have public transportation, unless we have an immediate 8¢ gas tax increase. Do you think that’ll effect business? Tourism? And can you name a more regressive tax?

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