Critics Say Park Service Quietly Urging Cuts

Washington, DC – The National Park Service was criticized Wednesday by a group of former park service employees. At a time when the agency has launched a campaign to increase visitation, the Coalition of Concerned National Park Service Retirees says they are also quietly telling parks to cut services and maintenance. Former Superintendent at Dinosaur National Monument, Denny Huffman, says the two efforts are at odds with each other. He says the Bush Administration, Department of Interior and the National Park Service can't have it both ways, engaging in large-scale efforts with the travel industry to ramp up visitors to the park and then at the same time pressure superintendents to cut service. Grand Teton Park Spokeswoman Joan Anzelmo says they haven't been told to quietly make cuts. She says their 2004 budget is $9.4 million, about $200,000 more then a year ago. But with the rising cost of business and inflation, she says they will have to be creative with budgeting. She says not filling vacancies and cutting seasonal employee spending are possible. In Yellowstone, this year's budget is $27.4 Million up from $27.1 Million. A Spokeswoman says their new business plan is helping them direct their resources better. The budget at Fort Laramie National Historic Site is $1.167 Million, down by about $30,000. Seasonal employee positions could also get cut at Fort Laramie, at least two according to the Chief Park Ranger there. Devil's Tower also will lose some funding from $771,000 to $768,000. Acting Superintendent Jim Cheatham says they are also looking at reducing seasonal employees and leaving vacancies open. Next year he says Devil's Tower could be forced to cut back hours at the visitor center and campground if funding doesn't go up.