The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

Politics

March 16, 2013

Long lines, closings at parks, landmarks bring sequester home

(Continued)

Grand Canyon's restrooms and campgrounds will be cleaned less often, and repairs to damaged trails will take longer, Uberuaga said in a phone interview. Sequestration cut $1.1 million from $21 million in 2012 federal funding. The park has stopped hiring and eliminated staff travel and overtime, except for an emergency, he said.

Tours of the White House were canceled this month, though Obama last week said he is seeking a way to resume them for school groups.

Visitor centers at Acadia National Park in Maine and Cape Cod National Seashore in Massachusetts will delay opening or reduce operating hours. Acadia, which is losing $390,000 from its $7.8 million budget for the year ending Sept. 30, may not open its center until mid-May, a month later than usual, Len Bobinchock, deputy superintendent, said in a phone interview.

Cape Cod plans to reduce hours at the Province Lands visitor center and may close the facility, which hosts about 260,000 tourists a year, said Superintendent George Price. A National Park Service statement last year showed visitors to the seashore and surrounding areas spent more than $171 million in 2010, supporting about 2,000 jobs in Massachusetts.

"Our economic footprint here on Cape Cod is pretty significant," Price said in a phone interview.

A hiring freeze at Padre Island National Seashore, which stretches for 70 miles (113 kilometers) along the Gulf of Mexico south of Corpus Christi, Texas, will trim the patrol force to 9 officers from 11, Joe Escoto, park superintendent said in a phone interview.

Federal budget cuts also put animal life in jeopardy. The endangered Kemp's Ridley sea turtle lives near Padre Island and park rangers usually find turtle eggs and transfer them to incubators to shield them from tides, predators and tourists driving on the beach. If sequestration persists, and leads to fewer beach patrols, it may hurt the turtle population, Escoto said.

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