Seasonals Will Help Parks, But What About Staff Increases?
It's way too early to see what shakes out of the president's Fiscal 2008 budget proposal for the parks, but the road ahead will definitely be interesting.
Particularly interesting will be whether Congress jumps on board and whether parks with big staffing shortfalls will be able to fill some of those vacancies.
For instance, at the Blue Ridge Parkway the approved staffing level is 231. However, 57 of those jobs currently are vacant because of funding problems. Among the vacancies? The chief of interpretation, chief of maintenance, and chief of public relations. Oh yeah, the park's landscape architect's job also is unfilled at this point. These are not jobs for seasonals.
Just the same, Superintendent Phil Francis isn't complaining. Far from it. He's thrilled with the prospect of receiving $1.5 million to fund 47 seasonal positions, jobs that will help maintain the parkway's facilities and landscape. And he's optimistic that, if Congress rallies around the president's proposal, funding eventually will be found for those full-time jobs.
"The idea that we're going to get $1.5 million more in '08 than '06 sounds like a pretty good idea to me," Francis tells me. "We're very happy."
Too, the president's proposal does contain funding for 500 or so full-time jobs, so perhaps Francis will luck out and be able to fill some of those valuable positions.