While you still can climb up the Cape Lookout Lighthouse this summer, you won't be able to reserve your spot in line as the national seashore is cutting various programs to meet budget cuts imposed by the failure of Congress and the White House to solve the nation's fiscal solvency.
For Cape Lookout National Seashore, the cuts amount to a $123,417 reduction from the seashore's annual budget of $2,468,348. Travel, training, overtime and supply purchases have been reduced, as have the number of seasonal and permanent employee positions to meet the required spending reduction.
"We recognize that these decisions will have impacts on the visitors to the park, but they could not be avoided with the reduction in the budget," said Superintendent Pat Kenney.
Here's a look at the major impacts resulting from the cuts:
Staffing (Note: 84% percent of the park's budget pays for salaries and fixed costs like utilities)
* Unfilled Permanent Positions:
One Administrative Support Assistant- this full-time position provides support to the park staff in human resource management, purchasing of supplies and materials, contracting of services and general office support. These duties will have to be absorbed by other staff within the park.
* Unfilled Seasonal Positions:
One Park Ranger in Interpretation and Education Division- this position develops and presents educational programs, develops exhibits, responds to correspondence and works in park visitor centers.
One Visitor Use Assistant that was planned to take reservations for climbing the lighthouse.
Reduced staffing will reduce park operations in the following ways:
The Harkers Island Visitor Center is now closed on weekends until further notice.
The Core Sound Waterfowl Museum and Heritage Center located on park land adjacent to the visitor center will be open on Saturdays, from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m., and Sundays, from 2 p.m. until 5 p.m.
The Light Station Visitor Center and Keepers' Quarters Museum at the Cape Lookout Lighthouse will be open 7 days per week, from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. from March until October.
Ranger-led interpretive programs offered at the Harkers Island Visitor Center on weekends have been discontinued.
Ranger-led interpretive programs offered at the Cape Lookout Lighthouse, typically during the summer, from mid-May to mid-September, will be discontinued.
Ticket reservations, available in previous years for climbing the Cape Lookout Lighthouse will be discontinued. Tickets will be available at the Light Station Visitor Center, near the lighthouse, on a first come, first served basis.
Printing of 30,000 copies of the Seashore newspaper and about 20,000 copies of more than 14 different information bulletins will be eliminated.
The newspaper and bulletins will be available in digital format on the park's website.
Installation of replacement road signs along Route 70, Route 12, and Highway 101 that direct visitors to five Seashore departure sites in Carteret County will be delayed.