National Park Service prepares for sequester cuts at local battl - WECT TV6-WECT.com:News, weather & sports Wilmington, NC

National Park Service prepares for sequester cuts at local battlefield

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Moores Creek National Battlefield, in Pender County, is this area's only facility operated by the National Park Service. Moores Creek National Battlefield, in Pender County, is this area's only facility operated by the National Park Service.

CURRIE, NC (WECT) - While officials are waiting to see what impact the recent sequester will have on state government programs, superintendents of the country's national parks have received their mandate on reductions.

Moores Creek National Battlefield, in Pender County, is this area's only facility operated by the National Park Service.

Moores Creek officials have been told to reduce their operating budget by five percent, before the end of the fiscal year. The reduction means a maintenance position will not be filled, and the parks national resources specialist will have in. It also means the park will have to limit the removal of invasive plant species, reduce their fire management plan and cut back on their staff's ability to analyze water quality.

There were an estimated 279 million visitors to national parks in 2011, the last year figures were available. Visitors this year are already seeing sequestration-related cuts; at some sites, the 5 percent reduction will be less obvious right away.

The National Capital Region, which oversees parks and Civil War battlefields in and around Washington, D.C. is contemplating from limiting hours, or closing altogether, to hiring only half the 400-500 seasonal employees it normally does.

A travel ban for March has been implemented, and a hiring freeze will remain on about nine hundred unfilled permanent positions. The NPS has about 15,000 permanent employees.

The budget cuts will have a greater impact at many of the nation's larger park facilities. At Yellowstone National Park, where 3.4 million people visited last year, snow-plowing that is necessary to open the park has already been delayed by two weeks, until next Monday. Park staff hope that more show will melt to save the $10,000 a day it costs to plow the vast park's roads and entrances.

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