Should sequestration-related budget cuts come to fruition, national parks would turn to “ghost towns,” one concerned group is warning.
The Coalition of National Park Service Retirees (CNPSR) on Thursday released a memo and documents indicating the National Park Service would reduce the number of park rangers, services and park hours to comply with federal budget cuts.
Under sequestration, budget cuts totaling $1.2 trillion over 10 years are set to take place starting March 1 unless Congress comes to an agreement agreement putting off or eliminating the automatic cuts. Sequestration was originally set to kick in at the start of the year, Congress on Jan. 1 agreed to a postponement.
“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, resources, and government assets,” NPS Director Jonathan Jarvis wrote in a Jan. 25 memo released by the group.
Jarvis directed parks to prepare to cut 5 percent of their budgets and ordered an immediate hiring freeze (except for hires already in progress). Cuts would not be limited to smaller parks, and data release by CNPSR indicates prominent parks such as the Grand Canyon ($1.06 million), Yellowstone National Park ($1.75 million) and the National Mall and Memorial Park ($1.6 million) would see cuts.