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Sequestration Cuts Outlined In YNP

Wenk

Yellowstone National Park Superintendent Dan Wenk visited with members of the media yesterday about ways the sequestration is impacting activities in the nation’s first park.  Among the measures being taken to cut $1¾-million from the park’s operations is a delay in plowing the roads by two weeks.  He says that will enable two weeks of warmer weather to melt some of the snow making the task of opening the roads easier and so less costly.  Based on 2012 visitation figures, Wenk says opening two weeks later than originally scheduled will impact approximately 135-thousand visitors.  Wenk says the park needs to take the cuts now since the end of the budget year is in September and it impacts the fewest visitors in the spring.  Wenk says “If we took it in the fall – took the two weeks of September and all of October,  it would be over 500-thousand visitors.” Other cuts will involve not filling positions that have been vacated by people who have retired or have been transferred, hiring fewer seasonal employees, and shortening the length of time they will work in the park.  Wenk says that using more volunteers to fill some of the gaps is limited by the amount of housing that is available for those volunteers – but he would welcome those who are willing to come in from outside the park.  Wenk also says efforts continue to be made to pool resources with neighboring Grand Teton National Park for mutual savings.  He says for example, Yellowstone project crews will be in Grand Teton this summer working on roads.  Says Wenk: “I think something that we do on a consistent and constant  basis is look for how we can share expertise, equipment, etc. to make both operations more efficient.”  The fiscal year ends in September, and Wenk says should the sequestration continue, other options for making cuts will be examined, including possible changes to the coming winter season.

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