How Sequester Cuts Threaten Our National Parks

By now, I'm sure you know just how serious the situation is for our national parks due to the sequester cuts which went into effect on March 1.

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:

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.

The National Parks Conservation Association 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.

This post originally appeared in the Park Advocate, the National Parks Conservation Association blog, at www.parkadvocate.org.

Tom Kiernan is President of the National Parks Conservation Association. Since 1919, the nonprofit, nonpartisan National Parks Conservation Association has been the leading voice of the American people in protecting and enhancing our National Park System. NPCA, its 750,000 members, supporters, and partners work together to protect the park system and preserve our nation’s natural, historical, and cultural heritage for generations to come.