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Obama Administration Report Says "Sequestration" Would Cut $218 Million From NPS Budget


Unless Congress averts a staggering budget "sequestration" early next year, the National Park System will be devastated by underfunding that could force the Park Service to shutter more than 100 parks, according to the National Parks Conservation Association.

The NPCA drew that conclusion after the Obama administration on Friday released a report from the Office of Management and Budget that projected how the sequestration -- a slashing of government budgets aimed at reining in the federal deficit -- could impact government agencies. That report said the Park Service would have 8.2 percent of its annual budget, or $218 million, cut under sequestration if Congress doesn't act to more deliberately cut costs.

“Make no mistake that if Congress fails to prevent this cut, national parks and local communities who depend on their business will suffer,” NPCA President Tom Kiernan said in a release. “We are deeply concerned that this cut could lead to the closure of more than a hundred parks.”

According to the parks advocacy group, the park system already suffers "from an annual operations shortfall of $500 to $600 million, which means there are insufficient rangers and other staff to care for our national treasures and serve visitors. Park budgets have already been slashed over the last two years, and as Congress debates how to address the deficit, the report out today clearly indicates that our national heritage is at risk in the near future."

The OMB report projects that under sequestration the Park Service would have $183 million cut from its daily operations budget, $13 million from its construction budget, $5 million from its National Recreation and Preservation program, $8 million from Land Acquisition and State Assistance program, $5 million from its Historic Preservation program, and $4 million from other programs.

"NPCA’s analysis indicates that the cut of $183 million to the operation of national parks would very likely lead to the furloughing—or indefinite closure—of national parks," the group's release said. "A cut of this magnitude would also likely lead to the loss of many park rangers, particularly during the busy visiting season."

“Not only would the National Park Service have fewer rangers to educate visitors, plan visits, and respond to emergencies, but parks would not have the funding they need to adequately maintain hiking trails, protect wildlife, preserve historic buildings, or keep visitor centers and campgrounds open for visitors to enjoy,” said Mr. Kiernan.

NPCA has pointed out that the Park Service budget represents just 1/14th of 1 percent of the overall federal budget. At the same time, the group says, national parks "support $31 billion in private-sector spending and 258,000 jobs each year."

“Our national parks are at a crossroads. Making the right choice to invest in national parks will not only protect our national park legacy, but benefit local economies and communities nationwide,” the NPCA president said.


A day or two late and a dollar short but here's my input on this issue: A comparison of two parks.

Fort Frederica National Monument: Day use park, historic site, 250 acres, around 300,000 visitors per year. 13 full-time year round staff members.

First Landing State Park: Day and Overnight park: Chesapeake Bay beach open to public, 2,880 acres, 20 miles of trails, 200 campsites, 20 cabins, 1.2 million visitors per year. 14 full time year round staff. NO Concessionaire, park staff runs entire operation with assistance of part-time seasonal staff.

Why can't the National Park Service do what state park systems have been doing for years?

Here's one example from my days at a national park site: A special project was proposed to remove masonry caps put on the old colonial foundations of homes excavated in the park. Price? $25,000. Project approved. Park uses its own staff mason to do the project, paid his salary while working on it from the project funds (bringing up the question of if he had enough time to be "loaned" to this special project, why couldn't this have been part of his daily work?) and the park ended up the fiscal year with a "fall spending spree" of unnecessary equipment from the salary savings. We were asked to put in a "wish list" of items and not to hold back because lots of money was available. How often does this occur system-wide?

Don't get me wrong, I love our national parks and have visited many of them. I take vacations specifically to visit national parks. I worked for them in the early years of my park career (now 30 plus years). And yes, I am a long-time member of NPCA. However, I know they, just like any government agency, can remove some fat from the budget. And it can be done without sacrificing resources and customer service, contrary to what an organization I support says. Just look at how much many of the state park systems get done with a lot less resources than national parks have.

Thanks Kurt for letting me put in my two cents worth.

But, Kurt, casting blame and finger pointing is much easier and a whole lot more fun than actually working in search of a solution.

I just started reading a book I picked up at the library. Hardly into it, but it looks like it is one all Americans should read. It's called Hidden America, From Coal Miners to Cowboys, an Extraordinary Exploration of the Unseen People Who Make This Country Work.

The author is Jeanne Marie Laskas. Perhaps one of the most important and useful things we could all do is begin to look beyond our own lives and begin to become acquainted with others around us. Turn off the entertainment and start to learn, seriously learn, what's happening out there.

In the introduction, Ms. Laskas wrote about a spoiled child who feels entitled. As I read that paragraph it suddenly hit me between the eyes: All Americans have somehow come to feel entitled. It doesn't matter if we are one of the 99% or the 1%. We all feel we are entitled to whatever we have and whatever we seek. And as long as each of us feels entitled, we will never make much progress toward any worthwhile goal.

Not only that, but we are all afraid. Afraid that if we give an inch, if we back off on any of our closely held ideas or "values," we will somehow lose that to which we feel entitled. Fear is a most powerful emotion.

I think we see it reflected here in all the opposing postings. I'll bet that if all of us would closely examine ourselves, we'd find that same kind of fear coursing through ourselves. Perhaps, what we need to do is cut each other some slack -- give one another some respect. How to do that without giving up our entitlements is going to be the trick. But right now I'm thinking that what happened last Tuesday is an opening that, if we take it, may lead our nation to better things. it's going to take some courage, though.

Now I need to get back to reading . . . .

Cracks me up about a few deriding fingerpointing. Long history, especially in recent memory, of dredging up BS and distractions to avoid any real problem solving (or addressing the issues). No budget for four years spending a Trill a year of borrowed money. We are supposed to cry over the well healed Park Service? Building going on all over the NPS System while any budget shortage will most assuredly directed at public opportunities. BS boys and I'm directed that at the life long government employees that fit the term that a few throw around on this site (TROLLS).


Does anyone else out there detect a note of fear at 5:58 p.m. this evening?

I'll second Rick's motion.

Oh and Lee the Budget Control Act did not originate in the House. It orginated in the White House and was recommended to Senate leader Harry Reid.

Anonymous at 4:58, I would suspect quite a few more than the top 50 percent feel that they're entitled to what they have earned....or can earn.

I am sure they do. Unfortunately many of them think them are entitled to much more. Lee claims everyone, including the 1% think they are entitled to something. Beyond those rights guarantee by the Constitution and what one has earned, most people I know don't expect anything more, and I am certainly not in the 1%.

promote the general Welfare

Yes "promote" not insure or provide.

Anonymous at 4:58, I would suspect quite a few more than the top 50 percent feel that they're entitled to what they have earned....or can earn. I would also suspect that quite a few haven't been able to earn as much as they'd like due to circumstances beyond their control, such as illness, accident, discrimination, outsourcing or off-shoring of jobs, or any number of other circumstances.

As for the Constitution, let's not forget that the opening stanza reads, "We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity..."

It doesn't say "We the top 50 percent," but does stress the need for "domestic tranquility" and to "promote the general welfare...." of all in the United States.

Kurt... I certainly would support altering the anonymous system here. Let people register as Timothy Tentpeg or Suzy Creemcheez if they wish, but let's provide some clarity here. It is impossible to follow a train of thought when angels and asshats alike post under the identical generic 'anonymous'.

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