Today’s Cuts Mean Wide-Ranging Impacts for Parks—and People—around the Country

Blue Ridge Parkway

Blue Ridge Parkway

By now, I’m sure you know just how serious the situation is for our national parks due to the sequester cuts which will go into effect later today.

It’s alarming that this very avoidable threat is about to become a reality. From Yellowstone to Cape Cod, the Grand Canyon and Great Smoky Mountains, our national heritage and local economies are at risk.

Information in a recently leaked Park Service planning document about potential impacts to park budgets suggests that the sequester will cause drastic cuts to jobs, educational programs, visitor centers, and visitor access points, including:

  • Jobs: Blue Ridge Parkway would cut 21 seasonal interpretive ranger programs, which would result in the closure of 50 percent of its visitor center contact stations at our country’s most-visited national park site. Eliminating these seven stations will put an 80-mile distance between each open facility.
  • Education: Gettysburg National Military Park would eliminate 20 percent of its student education programs during the spring, which will impact 2,400 students.
  • Impact to Gateway Communities: Glacier National Park’s Going-to-the-Sun Road would delay its reopening by two weeks. Previous closures of this road have resulted in $1 million in lost revenue daily to surrounding communities and concessions.
  • Permanent Visitor Center Closure: Mount Rainier National Park would permanently close its Ohanapecosh Visitor Center, affecting 60,000 to 85,000 visitors.
  • Tourism:  Independence National Historical Park would close eight of 16 interpretive sites in the spring and fall, such as the Declaration House, the New Hall Military Museum, and the Todd House, impacting more than 84,000 visitors.

Every dollar invested in the National Park Service generates about ten dollars in economic activity—yet in today’s dollars, the Park Service budget has already declined by 15 percent over the last decade. The Park Service’s own peer-reviewed economic report released this past Monday revealed that the nearly 279 million national park visitors in 2011 generated a whopping $30.1 billion in economic activity and supported 252,000 jobs nationwide. Many in the business community are deeply concerned about the wide-ranging effects these sequester cuts could have to the economy: Nearly 300 businesses have signed on to a letter calling on President Obama and Congress to keep parks open.

NPCA will continue to work with members of Congress—as it has for months—to avert the worst consequences these damaging cuts could have on our national parks and the people that love and depend on them. Your voice continues to be critical in sharing the importance of these iconic places with our elected officials. Learn more on NPCA’s website, join the conversation on Twitter at #KeepParksOpen, and please take a moment to tell President Obama and Congress to keep parks open.

About the Author

Former NPCA President Tom Kiernan

Tom Kiernan is former president of NPCA

  • Marian Hennings

    I am very sad to hear that the Ohanapecosh Visitors Center will be permanentlly closed. I am 63 years old and remember going there many times as a child. I took my own children there as an adult. The displays there are excellent, especially the one of the mountain and its glaciers and rivers. I hope it can stay open; closing that center would be a REAL shame.

  • Jane F Flynn

    One way to save the parks is to eliminate the free entrance for seniors. Most seniors who are able to get to the parks can afford to pay an entrance fee. It is ridiculous to see huge 100,000 dollar RVs entering the park without paying a cent for the damage they are doing to the park or for the enjoyment they are having in the park.

  • james E. Whitt

    Cut pay of all congress, Representatives etc do away with all benefits for elected fficials. no perks.
    Our NATIONAL PARKS must be preserved & supported. they are our most valuable assett.