Trail crew that constructed the Greenway Trail System in Grand Canyon National Park last summer
flickr, Grand Canyon NPS
On March 1st, Congress' inability to agree on a federal budget led to sequestration - an across-the-board five percent cut to government programs. This includes public land agencies like the National Park Service (NPS), whose budget for the remaining seven months of the fiscal year has been slashed by $100 million.
A week later, NPS Director Jarvis sent a memo to all staff that detailed how real these cuts are, including specific changes taking place immediately. Among these, he specifically noted that 900 of 15,000 permanent as well as 1,000 crucial seasonal positions will not be filled as originally planned. These staff changes, he wrote, will mean:
- Fewer law enforcement rangers, so lower levels of protection and longer response times
- Fewer maintenance personnel, so parks may have to close completely when breakdowns occur
- Fewer management and administrative personnel, so lower levels of accountability and oversight
- Efforts to control non-native species will be reversed as they are able to take hold again
- Community support programs will reduce grants and assistance to states
- The $12 billion maintenance backlog will continue to grow.
"I want you to know that the impacts of these cuts are real and will be felt by our visitors, our partners, our parks and programs, and each and every employee," Jarvis wrote. "Uncertainty about access to everything from interpretive programs to facilities could send visitors elsewhere, with impacts to entrance fees, concession revenue, and the tourism economies in gateway communities."
Pictured at left: Director Jarvis. Credit: flickr, GreatFallsNPS