You are here

Sequestration Doubly Costly As Mammoth Cave National Park Losing Tour Revenues


Mammoth Cave National Park in Kentucky is being hit twice by the federal budget sequestration -- first by having to cut 5 percent from its budget, and again by lost revenues from cave tours that have been canceled due to lack of staff.

Park Superintendent Sarah Craighead said Tuesday that the park stands to lose about $300,000 in tour fees as she can't afford to hire seven seasonal interpretive rangers who normally lead the Grand Avenue and Snowball Room tours.

"So we will suspend those tours, and that will affect about 28,000 visitors, and will eliminate about 600 tours," she said during a phone call. “It’s a pretty big impact to us, because it’s actually kind of a double whammy because it also means that we don’t collect about $300,000 in fees. ... That’s where most of our funding is in the summer.”

The superintendent said other problems could come to light, so to speak, underground as the position of an electrician also will go vacant in a cost-cutting move.

“One of the things that we’re facing wtih sequestration is one of the positions that we have to lapse is an electrician position," said Superintendent Craighead. "On the surface we have 150 buildings that we have to keep with good electrical service, but underground we have 36 miles of distribution system, and several transformers and hundreds of lights. And all that you have to hike to to get to in most cases, some cases it’s a couple miles to get to where you need to go."

Also idled this coming season by sequestration is the Houchins Ferry, one of two ferries that cross the Green River in the park, she said.

"We usually open that (ferry) in March and run it through late fall, and we will not be opening that at all this year," said Superintendent Craighead. "For those users of it, they’ll have an extra drive (of about 30 minutes) to the nearest bridge. So it’s an impact on the local commuinty there."


OK Rick - Say you are right that the incremental cost is more than $500- which is hard to fathom (a four hour tour at $25 bucks an hour - where is the other $300). That would mean the park isn't losing a thing from shutting down the tours. It might drop $300,000 in tour revenue but would save even more in incremental cost.

Either way, a basic understanding of economics and finance shows the crocidle tears are unwarranted.

As to your super sending out letters or looking into the faces at staff meetings, employers in the private sector do this every day - and particularly have so over the last 6 years. Although currently its more along the lines of, "we are cutting your hours because we can't afford ObamaCare" or "we aren't hiring more so we stay under the ObamaCare limit", or "we are cutting your insurance because we can't afford it any more". (hope MSN isn't too conservative a source for you LOL)

Oh and here is one from that "right-wing" huffington post"

I’m going to go far out on a limb here and suggest that maybe we all – me included – need to do some self inspection.

It is very easy to use an electronic board like this in an attempt to appear to be an instant expert on any subject under the sun or moon. It is especially so when able to hide behind the wall of anonymity and thus avoid any personal accountability for what we may write.

It is far too easy to cast critical aspersions on one like Superintendent Craighead who has the courage or whatever it takes to try to keep a place like Mammoth Cave operating in the face of political bloodlust in a totally dysfunctional Congress and ineffective administration. It’s too easy to point fingers at others who dare to disagree. It’s easy to criticize her decisions and actions when we don’t have full knowledge of what went into them, or when we don’t have the budget before us. It might different if we could take that budget, examine it carefully and then make an honest effort to see where and how it could be improved. Condemnation is much easier than construction.

We have a mess right now. Our national parks have frequently been used in the past by others both inside and outside government as political pawns in efforts to raise discord within the ranks of those who treasure them. That’s happening again, and it’s terribly unfortunate. It’s essential that we try to look behind the smokescreens and discern the reasons for these political actions. I believe that if we do, we’ll find the root cause is always money. Yet aren’t there some things within our parks that are far more valuable than anything money can buy?

Are we forgetting that despite some strong differences of opinion, our opinions are just opinions? Are we forgetting that, above all, we should be Americans first – and Democrats, Republicans, liberals, conservatives or moderates a distant second? Traveler is a wonderful website that can provide not only enjoyment of our parks, but also has great potential to be a sounding board for constructive ideas and maybe even a way to find some solutions to perplexing challenges. Are we using it for that or not?

Too many Americans in our currently divided nation are doing nothing more than acting like my four-year old grand-daughter does sometimes when she cannot understand why she can’t have her way — NOW!

Could it be time to grow up?

I am sorry that I made an error in my above post. The Federal fiscal year, of course, begins October 1 and closes September 30 of the following year. My apologies.


Rick B, with $1.4 Billion in vacations, attendents, PR specialists and the fawning press even Rodman could appear as a fine diplomat.

Teddy is an American hero for those that actually get into these wild places and connect (Not just the parks).

BTW, Add Hominy is what I do to my eggs, so buggar off.

Closing time.

. . . yup.

vacuous twaddle....

Justinh, the thought that Obama and Teddy Roosevelt could be mentioned in the same sentence or in the same universe of thought was more than I could stomach. Words have very little value anymore if that's the case. Just me I suppose...

National Parks Traveler's Essential Park Guide

Recent Forum Comments