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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."


If they can't get someone to conduct a tour for $500 a pop, there is something far more wrong here than sequestration.

I'm sure tour guides are not the only service funded by the $300,000. Seasonal interpreters have many duties other than just guiding tours. They serve at info desks, on roving assignments, evening programs, and more. The entrance fee money probably also helps cover clean up in the cave, and likely help cover the cost of maintaining the underground electrical and trail systems. A cut in tours, however, will be the most noticeable to the visiting public.

I don't buy it Lee. If they are generating 500 per tour that surely exceeds the incremental cost of doing the tour. To not do the tour would be foolish.

All this chicken little squawking makes one think there is some contest to see who can generate the biggest crocodile tears.

Yeah. But I'm afraid you win on the crocodile tears argument. Pretty hard to beat Boehner in that department. :-}

If I knew what you were talking about, I would respond. But I assume it is another of you personal attacks generated by your inability to intelligently discuss the point.

By God, ec, you are just the kind of person we need in parks, a real hard-headed businessman who will fix the NPS's budget problems just like that other famous businessman, George Bush, ran the government. For the good of the country's National Park System, quit what you are doing and sign on as an NPS employee. You have a headstart. You already know what it costs to run a tour at Mammoth Cave. Obviously, Superintendent Craighead doesn't.



I've been to Mammoth Cave twice, and from touring the caves, riding the ferry, and hiking Big Woods, I gained a precise understanding of the park's yearly operating budget.

If you are going to cut, then why cut a visitor service that is mostly, if not completley, self sustaining. Seems like a poor decisions that may have more to do with politics than budget.

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