Your national park access may decrease with budget cuts: list of parks to be affected

Cuts to the budget could mean shortened ours at the Grand Canyon National Park Visitor Center (South Rim) as well as closures to the East and West Rim drives.

National Park Service

National parks and other wild lands will be hit heavily by a $100 million reduction that Congress put into place March 1 as part of the budget battle.

Meanwhile oil and gas companies continue to receive unnecessary and outdated subsidies at the expense of taxpayers. 

The automatic budget cuts expected to go forward through 'sequestration' will lead to closure of visitor centers and campgrounds and picnic areas; road closures; and reduced seasons, among other impacts.  

"Middle-class Americans who expected to spend their summer vacations at our 398 national parks, 561 refuges, and over 258 public land units will encounter reduced hours and services or even closures," wrote Secretary Salazar in a memo to Interior Department employees.

Photo: Boy gets sworn in as a Junior Ranger. Cuts could mean fewer Junior Ranger programs. By: Barron, flickr

At many parks there will simply be fewer rangers, which could mean cuts to ranger-led programs, junior ranger or youth programs and campground patrols.

Tell Congress to swing its budget ax at oil subsidies instead of national parks

Through information from the Coalition of Park Service Retirees and other sources, we know the details of the following parks:

National park impacts

  • Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado - A RMNP spokesperson said the park will need to cut staff, leading to longer lines at the park entrance, reduced visitor center hours and dirtier bathrooms. An additional cut to seasonal rangers will mean fewer responders to backcountry emergencies. 
  • Great Smoky Mountains National Park, North Carolina and Tennessee - closure of five campgrounds and picnic areas. Also reduced road maintenance will increase the time for emergency responses to accidents and rockslides. 
  • Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona - shortened visitor center hours and delayed openings at East and West Rims. This will immediately affect over 250,000 visitors of the Grand Canyon's approximately five million visitors annually, according to the CNPSR.
  • Yosemite National Park, California - Tioga and Glacier Park road openings delayed up to four weeks due to lack of staff available for snow removal. According to information provided to the Los Angeles Times, ranger-led programs are likely to be reduced and the park would face "less frequent trash pickup, loss of campground staff, and reduced focus on food storage violations, all of which contribute to visitor safety concerns and increased bear mortality rates."  
  • Yellowstone National Park, Idaho, Montana and Wyoming - road openings delayed up to four weeks and visitor access to Grant Village and Yellowstone Lake delayed two to three weeks
  • Blue Ridge Parkway, Virginia and North Carolina - closure of half of the park's visitor stations
  • Glacier National Park, Montana - opening of the Going-to-the-Sun road, which is the main mountain-pass road, will be delayed by two weeks. According to the CNPSR, past closures of this road have resulted in local economic distress to surrounding communities. 
  • Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming - closure of the Jenny Lake visitor center, information station and preserve (pictured, above, right. photo: flickr, lostingrovont)
  • Cape Cod National Seashore, Massachusetts - closure of Province Lands Visitor Center for the season as well as reduced access to large sections of the Great Beach to protect nesting shorebirds that will no longer be able to be monitored as needed
  • Mount Rainier National Park, Washington - closure of the Ohanapecosh visitor center
  • Denali National Park, Alaska - seasonal staff shortages, resulting in the delayed opening of the Eielson visitor center
  • North Cascades National Park, Washington - $365,000 cut from the $7.310 million budget for the area, including the adjoining Ross Lake and Lake Chelan National Recreation Areas, according to the Seattle Post Intelligencer
  • Olympic National Park, Washington - stands to lose $639,000 from its FY 2013 continuing resolution budget of $12.777 million
  • Mojave National Preserve, California - seasonal employees will be reduced, so Kelso Depot and Hole-in-the-Wall visitor centers will be closed more days per week
  • Pinnacles National Park, California - loss of ranger programs, cancellation of the science camp for school children, the deterioration of trails and decreased ability to keep out feral pigs that eat native plants
  • Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, California - big reductions for youth programs which are a part of Los Angeles' outreach to underserved communities. 1,000 students are enrolled in service learning, so it will be like losing 1,000 volunteers.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has called the expected 5.1 percent budget cut to all federal programs 'draconian' and cautioned that local economies that depend upon the parks will feel the pain.

His warnings were accompanied by the release of the annual National Park Service Report that shows national parks created 31 billion in economic benefit and 252,000 jobs in 2011.

Slideshow: The splendor national parks offer year-round

Sequestration, as the budget cuts are known, had been postponed throughout negotiations in February, but Congress could not strike a budget deal by the March 1 deadline. Now these sweeping 5% cuts to all federal programs are sure to happen unless Congress works to place the cuts elsewhere, such as on outdated oil and gas subsidies.

Click here to ask Congress to protect parks and wildlands from budget cuts 

In addition to impacting jobs at this large agency, the sequester will inevitably limit the park system's ability to fulfill its mission to care for America's most treasured lands and safeguard opportunities for all Americans to enjoy them.

The National Park Service:

- manages 398 parks and monuments

- National Park Service units draw about 280 million visitors annually.

- National park visitors support 247,000 jobs and generate $31 billion in revenues from tourism and recreation.

Local communities depend on this revenue for their livelihood. Just as importantly, Americans depend on access to these lands as part of their heritage.

These cuts will be especially heartbreaking for all who have worked so hard in recent years to further the NPS' mission, including The Wilderness Society.

As Secretary Salazar put it, "Over the last 4 years we have made great progress by working together to deliver on a bold agenda that is generating significant results and includes reforms of the oil and gas programs, creation of a renewable energy frontier, renewed commitments to conservation through America's Great Outdoors, a focus on job creation through greater support of the conservation economy, stronger relationships with Native Americans, and high employment levels of youth. The sequester will roll back many of these advances and reduce the capacity we so diligently constructed."

Photo: The main Grand Canyon visitor center. NPS

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