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."