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.


Fear Mongers. If we don't get our fiscal house in order we are in trouble. What we need are caring citizens with great ideas that love this country and it's parks, so we can run them on a smaller budget. Shuttering parks threats is fear mongering!

This is more threats and attempted blackmail from the incredibly wasteful NPS upper management, who think they are above criticism or budget cuts. The National Parks Conservation Association is an enabler for these 'more' addicts and has the same top-heavy management structure. NPCA's expenses exceeded revenue last year and Charity Navigator gives them only two stars for financial mangement: http://www.charitynavigator.org/index.cfm?bay=search.summary&orgid=4192

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."

What NPCA doesn't tell you is that $31 billion is 1/26th of 1 percent of all private sector spending and 258,000 jobs is 1/55 of 1 percent of all jobs. Looks like NPCA is getting more than its fair share.

I rescind the calculations in the prior post as I was off by one decimal point. However, I would note the dollars and jobs cited by NPS are pure extrapolation. Actual NPS employees are 21,500 not 258,000 and of course that $31 billion of spending is not in the national parks. To suggest "gateway activities" wouldn't exist because the exact same land is called national forest (or some other designation) rather than "nationl park" is absurd.

Anonymous at 9:03, gateway activities tied to national forests do not seem to carry anywhere near the same economic clout as they do in gateways to national parks. Just look at the brisk business done in West Yellowstone (Yellowstone), Jackson (Grand Teton), or Springdale (Zion), and compare that to the business done in Stanley, Idaho, Centennial, Wyoming, or Buffalo, Wyoming.

So economically potent are the words "national park" that towns such as Cedar City, Utah, and Grand Junction, Colorado, would love to see Cedar Breaks National Monument and Colorado National Monument renamed as "national parks."

Kurt - might that be because Yellowstone, the Tetons and Zion have more appeal (on their own) than Stanley, Centennial or Buffalo?

Would Estes not be as strong without RMNP? Would Gatlinburg not be as strong without GSMNP? Would Washington DC not be as strong if its NP units were called something else? Would people that didn't vacation in/near a NP (where the dollars are counted) not vacation somewhere? Is that really incremental dollars to the economy?

While I love the NPs i have spent far more time and money camping/hiking/fishing etc outside NP units than in.

Beauty, of course, is in the eye of the beholder, but I find Stanley to be a wonderful town surrounded by incredible national forestlands with great opportunities from hiking to mountain biking, climbing and paddling. The Bighorns surrounding Buffalo likewise offer incredible scenery and backcountry opportunties.

I'd wager that if either the Sawtooth National Forest or the Bighorn National Forest were "national parks" instead that Buffalo and Stanley would be doing much better economically. There actually once was a day when the Sawtooth NRA was eyed for inclusion in the National Park System. And if you've seen the Sawtooths, you know they're as spectacular as the Tetons....

All the evidence in the universe makes it clear that the "national park" designation create a boon for gateway towns. Evidence for this one is pretty easy to google.

Boon for gateway towns? Would that mean drastically increased visitation to these environmentally sensitive sites. Which is it? Save them or increase the NPS bureocracy?

NPS employees in the parks are typically doing more than one job for very little pay. May there be some bloat at the top, sure, but is that not the case with every organization, private or public? As with most organization, the people that work for the NPS (or USFS or USFWS, etc.) do a tremendous job with very little. If you not value the job they do, that is your choice, but please not slight the exceptional job that most federal employees on public lands do day in and day out!!!

Boon for gateway towns? Would that mean drastically increased visitation to these environmentally sensitive sites.

Obviously means an economic boon to the gateway communities outside the sensitive sites within the parks.

Which is it? Save them or increase the NPS bureocracy?

Not sure where this false choice comes from. How about preserve the places, and in doing so, provide an economic boost to the communities that comes from the millions of Americans who want to visit these preserved places?

"What we need are caring citizens with great ideas that love this country and it's parks, so we can run them on a smaller budget. Shuttering parks threats is fear mongering!"

It really isn't "fear mongering." How do you suppose that the NPS is supposed to operate a park without people to keep the visitor centers open, fix the bathrooms, patrol the roads and manage the ecosystem?

If you want parks, you'll pay for them. If you don't want them, fine, admit it - but don't pretend that you love them. You don't love them enough to properly fund them, apparently.

And please don't tell me you care about the deficit - the GOP has proposed increasing military spending. More bombs and tanks, less campgrounds and rangers. That's what you support - don't pretend otherwise. Own it.

At some point people will be discovering a reality far different from what you've been promised by deceptive politicos because that's what they think you wil accept rather than the hard choices that need to be made. They will not be living the nightmare that the public will be. Forget the social issues and take care of business or it'll be Lord of the Flies in some degree. I love the parks and know the realities of nature. What we are living now is not natural. There will be a correction. To what degree, that is the only undecided. Take a look at what is transpiring around the world while our Pres. is meeting with JZ and Letterman but not the Israeli Prime Minister. Unbelievable!

And please don't tell me you care about the deficit - the GOP has proposed increasing
military spending. More bombs and tanks, less campgrounds and rangers.


I was in NYC 9/11/01. I saw the second plane hit the twin towers. I saw people walking dazed in the streets covered in ash. Yes, I want more bombs and tanks because I know that those that want to destroy us have no care for our parks. If you think isolationism is the answer, I suggest you go check out some early twentieth century history to see where that got us in the past.

To Anonymous 653pm...

[No wonder why you are anomymous].

If I ever 'forget the social issues' and live your fearing-Lord-of-Flies bleak and paranoid life, I won't worry about your threatened 'correction'. I'll worry about having my own page in DSM-IV.

You go ahead and live in fear. I'm going to continue to be concerned about the 'social issues', like helping the next person and living a balanced life, including supporting the parks and the Park Service. That works for me. Sorry about your world.

Rick B, didn't intend to go blow to blow but maybe you should note the Anon post before your "balanced" post. I do not live in fear but do have concerns as does the other Anon who saw the second plane go into the Trade Towers in NY. I realize the elephant in the room is barely obvious to many who have kept their deal going somehow. I do support the parks or rather the park experience to those that visit the resource. By that I mean people of all stripes somehow make their way to something much bigger than all their own deals that somehow put things in perspective and go back to life changed and much improved. I do not worship the geography but the maker. I feel there are threats, major threats to all you and I cherish. It's not fear but great concern. Wish you no ill will. I just wish people would recognize the threats to what has allowed us to be so blessed. A bus tour through a Park and photo opportunity by the present occupant of the WH does not suggest any reverence for what you and I both revere . Everyone's a pawn to him. Just my impression but I'm running with it.

Blessings to you

Same world, Rick.

I'm both a combat veteran and a retired psychiatric nurse. Trust me, I'm as aware of the ugly in the world as any; much more aware than most. I have the scars. It's a difference though, a significant difference, in how we view and approach things.

Away from you and I, our differences, and our personal sturm und drang, the original question was about the parks and the effect of lower funding for the NPS. Some will dispute this-versus-that priority internal to the NPS - old stuff versus new stuff, top heavy management versus boots in the mud, and so forth - but one fourteenth of one percent is miniscule to the overall budget. Efforts should be maintained to increase the NPS budget, and simultaneously work to spend it better.

Efforts should be maintained to increase the NPS budget, and simultaneously work to spend it better.

And the best way to do that would be to grow the economy at a faster pace. Raising tax rates, increasing regulation, putting burdensome and unwanted healthcare mandates on business and individuals, subsidizing ineffiecient technologies, blocking domestic energy development, printing money and failing to generate a budget hasn't and won't do that.

Interesting math, that would mean we have 1.419 billion jobs in the US, that's 4-1/2 jobs for each American...

Re the title:

Obama Administration Report Says "Sequestration" Would Cut $218 Million From NPS Budget
It was the administration that propsed sequestration in the first place. Now its complaining about it? Typical.

Actually, anonymous: "The Sequestration Transparency Act of 2012 (STA) (P.L. 112-155) requires the President to submit to Congress a report on the potential sequestration triggered by the failure of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction to propose, and Congress to enact, a plan to reduce the deficit by $1.2 trillion, as required by the Budget Control Act of 2011 (BCA)."

I wouldn't think that's complaining as much as meeting Congress's requirement. And what's wrong with pointing out the pitfalls of Congress's inaction?

Hopefully, in the weeks ahead we'll see both the Congress and the White House act with more statesmanship than political gamesmanship.


Let me rephrase. Your (NCPA and other progressives) candidate's administration proposed the sequestration (though he lied about it afterwards) and now YOU (NPCA and I am guessing you personally) are complaining about it - but not putting the blame where it lies.

It came from the House of Representatives:

The House passed the Budget Control Act on August 1, 2011 by a vote of 269–161. 174 Republicans and 95 Democrats voted for it, while 66 Republicans and 95 Democrats voted against it.

Anonymous (and you're really giving us motivation here at the Traveler to block anonymous comments), the language of the act clearly shows that the Congress asked for details of the pitfalls of not dealing with the budget deficit.

As for blame, there is plenty of that to go around, much of which predates the current administration. Sadly, it seems quite a few folks seek to cast blame and point fingers rather than seek and work toward solutions.

Could the Senate leader, by not accepting a budget for four years to avoid difficulty for Dem's. to survive elections, be just a bit responsible? Plenty to go around (blame). Blaming fiscal conservatives is, as so much that's said to BS the public, is something people are going to have to recognise. Now it's serious when it affects the Parks?

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 . . . .

Lee, the only thing the top 1% - and for that matter most the top 50% - think they are entitled to is what they have earned. That and the rights given to us by our Constitution.

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'.

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.

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.

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.

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

I'll second Rick's motion.

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).


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.