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Reader Participation Day: What Impacts On The National Parks Have You Noticed From The Budget Sequestration?


In your travels through the National Park System this summer, have you noticed any impacts from the budget sequestration? If so, how did they impact your visit?

Earlier this year there were dire warnings regarding how the National Park Service would absorb the cuts. But how visible have they been, and have they affected your visit to the parks?

Going forward, do you have any concerns if the cuts are left intact in the next fiscal year's budget?


My wife and I camped at Cataloochee in GRSM this June. I had planned on doing some hikes via the Caldwell Fork Trail, but three of the log bridges had been knocked out by storms. A sign at the trailhead said they would "not be replaced until further notice." I don't know if this was a direct effect of sequestration or budget cuts in general, but it was pretty disappointing.

According to the FY14 NPS Greenbook, Mount Rainier had a total of 179 FTEs in FY12(ONPS-132). Of those 179 FTEs, 118 were funded by the park's base operating dollars. Mount Rainier's operating budget was $12.2M for FY 2012. The FY12 NPS Greenbook lists Mount Rainier as having 204 FTEs in FY 2010, 118 funded by base ops(ONPS-193).

According to a May 2013 on the Bonny Lake Courier-Herald website, Rainier had a budget of $12.08M for 2012. Of that $12.08M, 5% was for program support(HR & Inventory and Monitoring) that Rainier provided for other parks in the region. So that for FY 2012, Rainier had ~$11.4M for its own operations. The article also states that 78-80% of the base funding is used for personnel and there are 110 permanent positions(12 currently vacant).

Given all this, it seems likely to me that those 40 hires are being funded by something other than the ops budget. I would think that positions funded by other funds would not necessarily be long-term permanent hires despite the impression that the New Tribune article gives.

It's 5 percent. Get over it.

The partisan bickering on this site is a real turn-off.

That's hokum. What is spare change at the national level makes a world of difference at street level.

And that is just the kind of thinking that has us in this hole in the first place.

At the local level I see several positions which this park needs filled, unfilled. Of course, I'm told that it is for the greater national good.

That's hokum. What is spare change at the national level makes a world of difference at street level.

It sounds noble and macro, but where I come from they spread that on alfalfa to help it grow taller.

Socialize expenses; privatize profits.

One of your favorite sayings but don't see its validity. I suppose your Oshkosh story was supposed to be an example. Don't all users of an airport pay a "gate" fee? Doesn't some of that fee then go to FAA? What is the incremental cost to the FAA of a private flight? I don't know any of those answers but suspect that any "subsidy" is miniscule compared to the cost of many of our counter productive social programs.

{edit} As I suspected, your characterization of private flights not paying into the FAA was inaccurate. {end edit}

I too am frustrated by the lack of action by our Congress. But I believe that inaction is the result of a strong dichotomy between those that are giving and those that are taking. Until those that are taking realize the money isn't endless, we aren't going to make any progress. I fear it will take a catastrophic event to get us back on course - and when that happens, the parks will be one of the last things people are worried about.

EC, I actually agree with much of what you just said. But I'll stand by the comment that Congress plays politics with our parks. Let me add to that, however, that Congress plays politics with virtually everything, and as a result they manage to screw up even a trip to the bathroom.

Yes, we DO need to get our financial act together, but trying to do it while kowtowing to powerful special interests so they may maintain their taxpayer paid subsidies at the expense of the rest of us is just plain wrong. Congress is a great example of modern American socialism -- Socialize expenses; privatize profits.

Our national crises go far beyond just our national debt. But how do ordinary people stand a chance against the organized, powerful, wealthy pus of corruption that infests our capitol? If Congress is, as you say, trying to drive home the dire circumstances of our finances, why not at least make a sincere effort to actually solve the underlying causes of that circumstance?

At Oshkosh, I repeatedly witnessed people who fly airplanes that cost several millions to purchase and thousands of dollars per hour to fly demonstrating their sense of entitlement when they had hissy fits over a proposal by the Federal Aviation Administration to start charging for air traffic control services for instrument flight plans. YOU are paying the bill to allow those folks to fly their machines safely. And every time one of them files IFR from New York to Chicago to watch a football game -- or conduct some business -- it costs all of us. Is it unreasonable to ask them to pay something like $25 for services they and they alone use?

I've repeatedly tried to make clear that ALL of us -- you, me, our neighbors, businesses large and small, are ALL in some way demanding that our wishes -- our demands for services to which we feel entitled -- are ALL equally guilty of the mess we are in.

And until we ALL are willing to become part of the solution, we will continue to be part of the problem.

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