Shenandoah National Park Expects Sequestration Impact - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

Shenandoah National Park Expects Sequestration Impact

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National parks from coast to coast are bracing for deep budget cuts, as Congress approaches the Friday sequester deadline.

Job losses and safety programs will be among the casualties at Shenandoah National Park. The park estimates a budget hit of about $623,000 as a result of the mandatory federal cuts.

The biggest losses will come in seasonal employees, but the park says visitors will see fewer services, and fewer safeguards.

The national park says it has eliminated six seasonal jobs and has delayed hiring for 24 more. Some of those positions are in preventive search and rescue and noncommissioned law enforcement, so the park says public safety could be affected by the cuts.

Neighboring communities that benefit from park-related spending hope the changes don't scare tourists away.

"It does impact us, but we won't know what that impact will be. We hope that the impact of their cuts does not really impact the visitor side of it, so that hopefully visitation maintains the level that it's at," said Katie McElroy, Waynesboro tourism director.

Shenandoah draws an estimated 2.7 million annual visitors. About 400,000 of them use the southern gateway just off Interstate 64 and Route 250.

The national park says sequester-related cuts will also reduce supply purchases from local vendors. And maintenance cuts mean less mowing, reducing visibility for visitors using Skyline Drive.

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