Budget constraints dictated by Congress mean you'll be swimming at your own risk next year at Cape Hatteras National Seashore, where officials will not be hiring lifeguards for three beaches that in the past have had the guards.
Outer Banks Group Superintendent Barclay Trimble said that cut, and others, were made necessary by the parks' current budget. In October, to re-open the government, Congress provided funds at Fiscal Year (FY) 2013 levels through January 15, 2014. Final funding for FY 2014 may not be resolved before then.
"Given our current budget realities and the uncertainty for the future, the National Park Service is exercising extreme caution in spending to ensure that available funding is directed towards the highest priorities," Superintendent Trimble said in a prepared statement.
The following operational changes will occur this fiscal year:
* Cape Hatteras National Seashore Visitor Centers located on Ocracoke Island and the Fort Raleigh Visitor Center will be closed on Mondays and Tuesdays from December 2, 2013, through mid-March to early April 2014.
* Lifeguard operations on all three lifeguarded beaches in the Seashore will be discontinued for FY 2014.
* Eight garbage dumpsters located adjacent to beach access ramps along NC Highway 12 will be replaced with smaller trash/recycling containers.
* Temporary structures at Wright Brothers National Memorial will be removed, providing substantial savings on utility and maintenance costs.
Other measures include reducing purchases of supplies and equipment, decreasing staff travel and training, and postponing vehicle procurement. There is also a likelihood of delaying the hiring of vacant positions.
"We wish we did not have to reduce our visitor services, and we know a lot of people will be disappointed, but we had to make some difficult decisions regarding park operations and priorities," said Superintendent Trimble. "The current budget situation does not allow us to have sufficient staff to keep the same number of hours and the degree of services as we have done in the past. We hope the situation changes and we will be able to return our visitor services to their former operating schedules in the future."