If heading to Valley Forge National Historic Park is on your to-do list this summer, you might need to double check the schedule. Due to sequestration, parks like Valley Forge may have staffing and hours on the "chopping block."
“Every park in the system would be affected, including treasured places like Gettysburg, Independence Hall and Valley Forge, and the local economies that depend on visitor spending would also suffer,” said Cinda Waldbuesser, senior Pennsylvania program manager for the National Parks Conservation Association in a recent release.
“The National Parks Service is a bureau run for the people,” said Director of National Park Services Jonathan Jarvis. “We are being asked to take a full year of cuts in the second-half of our year.”
Timing Means Cuts Will Be Felt More
Jarvis explained that absorbing a 5 percent reduction in funding will actually feel like a 10 percent change due to the shortened time frame. With the fiscal year half over, such changes will have to happen at a rapid pace.
“March is when we open parks that we usually run in the summer,” said Jarvis. “Places like Independence Hall will have to cut half of its interactive programs. Gettysburg, with its 150th anniversary this year, will have reduced programs, and 2,400 kids will not be able to participate in its programs.”
Sequester Has Already Hit Seasonal Jobs
While many think sequestration was “not to happen,” Jarvis reminded the public that its effects are already being shown.
“These impacts are real,” he said. “Contracts [for summer/seasonal hires] come into place on March 1. We’ve already implemented sequester by not allowing those contracts to go forward.”
The parks system said it will strive not to impact its full-time employees with sequestration reductions in funding.
“Anyone that might be furloughed would get a 30-day notice,” said Salazar. “Thousands of employees will have to be furloughed, some for long periods of time. Decisions will be made this week and next that have a real impact on people.”
Congress has until midnight Thursday to make a decision on sequester.