National Park Service Director Jon Jarvis has instructed all park superintendents to prepare for a five percent across-the-board budget cut in anticipation of sequestration should Congress be unable to reach a deficit-reduction agreement by March 1st. Parks would be asked to cut five percent of their entire fiscal year over a period of six months. Following six percent in cuts over the last two years and 15 percent over the past decade, sequestration would be a hard blow to an already struggling Park Service.
According to a National Park Service memo obtained by the Coalition of National Park Service Retirees, sequestration will have a drastic impact on the parks, visitors and gateway businesses. Jarvis explains, "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."
Voyageurs National Park officials have drafted a plan for a sequestration scenario, but are still weighing options to have the least effect on the public. Visitors would definitely see a reduction in park services. Seasonal hires would be cut drastically. Other areas with cuts would include campsite cleaning, trail maintenance, school and interpretation programs, air and water quality studies, and ranger support for search and rescue. Visitor center hours would be reduced with the possibility of one center closing. Read more.
Contact your elected officials today. Tell Congress to protect funding for our national parks.
Aerial moose surveys continue in the park this week. Here's a photo of Ranger Pilot Steve Mazur's view from the plane. Mazur said, "It is a pleasure to be a part of a project that is important to Voyageurs, Minnesota... and the moose."
Park staff are concerned about the long-term viability of Voyageurs' moose population given recent declines in moose populations in other parts of Minnesota and adjacent Ontario. The surveys allow researchers to find and outfit moose with GPS collars for tracking and study.
Click here to see more amazing photos of aerial moose tracking efforts from Minnesota Public Radio.