National park cuts detailed in memo

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One in five international tourists visits one of America’s 398 national parks, research shows, and the parks are one-third of the top 25 domestic travel destinations. If the cuts go though, the memo shows national parks will notice fewer services, shorter hours and the placing of some sensitive areas completely off-limits to visitors when there are too few staff members to protect resources.

The Park Service also writes that communities around parks that depend on tourism to fill their hotels and restaurants would suffer.

Cape Cod National Seashore would close the Province Land Visitor Center, shutting out 260,000 people from May through October. Without monitors to watch over nesting birds, large sections of the Great Beach would close to keep eggs from being trampled.

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park will close five campgrounds and picnic areas, affecting 54,000 visitors.

The more than 300,000 visitors who use Grand Teton’s Jenny Lake Visitor Center, a wildlife preserve and information station in Wyoming, would be sent to other areas of the park. The park’s nonprofit association would lose a quarter million dollars in sales.

In Yosemite National Park, 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.

Glacier National Park in Montana would delay the opening of the only road providing access to the entire park. When the Going-to-the-Sun Road has closed previously, it meant $1 million daily in lost revenue, the memo said.

Even Declaration House in Pennsylvania, the place where Thomas Jefferson drafted the Declaration of Independence, wouldn’t be spared. Nor would comfort stations on the Natchez Trace Parkway in Mississippi.

“We remain hopeful that Congress is able to avoid these cuts,” said Olson, the national parks spokesman.

Associated Press writer Mead Gruver in Cheyenne, Wyo., contributed to this report.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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