Possible US park cuts detailed

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webmaster | 02/23/13
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SACRAMENTO (AP) — The towering giant sequoias at Yosemite National Park would go unprotected from visitors who might trample their shallow roots. At Cape Cod National Seashore, large sections of the Great Beach would close to keep eggs from being destroyed if natural resourcemanagers are cut.

Gettysburg would decrease by one-fifth the numbers of school children who learn about the historic Pennsylvania battle that was a turning point in the Civil War.

As America’s financial clock ticks toward forced spending cuts to countless government agencies, The Associated Press has obtained a National Park Service memo that compiles a list of potential effects at the nation’s most beautiful and historic places just as spring vacation season begins.

“We’re planning for this to happen and hoping that it doesn’t,” said Park Service spokesman Jeffrey Olson, who confirmed that the list is authentic and represents cuts the department is considering.

Park Service Director Jon Jarvis last month asked superintendents to show by Feb. 11 how they would absorb the 5 percent funding cuts. The memo includes some of those decisions, which show a pattern of deep slashes that could harm resources and provide fewer protections for visitors.

In Yosemite National Park, park administrators fear that less frequent trash pickup would potentially attract bears into campgrounds.

The cuts will be challenging considering they would be implemented over the next seven months ― peak season for national parks. Maintenance reductions mean the 9,000-foot-high Tioga Pass, the park's only entrance from the east, would open later in the year because there would be no gas for snow plows or staff to operate them. The town of Mammoth Lakes in the eastern Sierra depends on Yosemite traffic to fill its hotels and restaurants.

Even programs important to the long-term environmental health of spectacular places are in jeopardy. In Yosemite, an ongoing project to remove invasive plants from the entire 761,000 acres would be cut. The end of guided ranger programs in the sequoia grove would leave 35,000 visitors unsupervised among the sensitive giants. And 3,500 volunteers who provide 40,000 hours on resource management duties would be eliminated for lack of anyone to run the program.

 

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