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Sequestration Will Force National Park Closings

From the Washington Post:

National park advocates pressing Congress to prevent deep budget cuts

By Lisa Rein | February 16, 2013

Advocates for the vast numbers of visitors to America’s national parks are pressuring Congress to prevent deep automatic spending cuts that would result in reduced hours and services across the country, from the Blue Ridge Mountains to Yellowstone.

Are we having a flashback? Are we suddenly back in the winter of 1995-96?

Few corners of the federal government directly touch the public as do the 398 parks, monuments and historic sites, which draw 280 million visits a year. The system would feel the effects immediately of a $110 million slash should budget cuts take effect March 1 — from a three-week delay of Yellowstone’s spring opening to save money on snow plowing, to shuttered campgrounds and visitor centers along the Blue Ridge Parkway.

And 20 days before the cherry blossoms begin blooming on the Mall, $1.6 million would be slashed from the park’s $32 million budget, cutting into law enforcement, tree maintenance, rangers and other services that park employees provide for one of Washington’s biggest tourist attractions.

“We’re going to have 1 million people in D.C. [for the cherry blossoms], whether sequestration happens or not,” said Diana Mayhew, executive director of the National Cherry Blossom Festival, the extravaganza scheduled for March 20 to April 14.

So the Obama administration is holding the national parks hostage. When only $85 billion dollars is being ‘cut’ from our $3.8 trillion dollar federal annual budget. Once again, Obama first wanted $60 billion dollars for Sandy Relief. He settled for $50 billion. $85 billion just is not that much money.

Besides, how much does it cost for the cherry blossoms to blossom, for crying out loud?

The White House began sounding alarms last week about the threat to military readiness, border security and humanitarian aid of $85 billion in reductions known as a sequester…

Notice how none of our media guardians ever mention that the current federal budget is over $3.8 trillion dollars. Or that these so-called cuts are only 2.2% of the budget. Or that the build-in increases are larger than this 2.2% cuts. Why is that?

The prospect of dirtier restrooms, sporadic grass mowing and litter pickup, and a shortage of rangers to answer questions and patrol has set off a furious campaign by a coalition of park advocates, tourism officials and businesses from to Maine to Wyoming.

Their plea: The reductions would not just set back conservation efforts but also undermine local economies around the parks that rely on tourism.

“The economic foundation the national parks provide for our businesses and communities is jeopardized by political maneuvering,” says a letter the nonpartisan National Parks Conservation Association plans to send to every member of Congress this week, signed by dozens of businesses…

Funny, but we never hear how tourism is affected by high gas prices or by the looming ‘carbon taxes.’

The Park Service’s dryly worded “Instructions for Sequestration Reduction Planning Template” calls for drastic measures if Congress does not avert the cuts.

“We expect that a cut of this magnitude, intensified by the lateness of the implementation, will result in reductions to visitor services, hours of operation, shortening of seasons and possibly the closing of areas during periods when there is insufficient staff to ensure the protection of visitors, employees, resources and government assets,” Jarvis wrote in a memo obtained by the Coalition of National Park Service Retirees, which is working to rally the public against the cuts.

The memo instructs park officials to plan for furloughs and eliminate most of the 9,000 seasonal employees who staff most visitor operations…

The Park Service’s $2.2 billion budget would be sliced 5.1 percent. The effect would be severe, former park officials and budget experts say, because the cuts would be made over the seven remaining months of the fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30…

The cut is only 2.2%. Why would the parks get twice that amount? And why can’t they get along on a measly $2.1 billion dollars?

Visitors to the Lincoln Memorial blamed a partisan Congress for failing to find consensus on reducing the deficit — and leaving them to bear the cost.

“The parks are for everybody,” said Kent Servoss, 67, a retired utility worker visiting from Utah with his church group. Servoss, a Vietnam veteran, said military spending should be cut, not parks.

“For Americans to partake in their heritage is a lot more important than buying an extra bomber,” he said…

You see? The Washington Post wants its low information readers to believe that the military isn’t getting cut at all.

It was ever thus.

This article was posted by Steve Gilbert on Monday, February 18th, 2013. Comments are currently closed.

One Response to “Sequestration Will Force National Park Closings”

  1. Because National Parks are only for rich white people who love nature.

    Inner city LoFo voters don’t get to no park, so we don’ need no damn Parks.


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