As many as 200 parks across America could greet visitors with “Sorry, but we’re closed” signs come January unless Congress reaches a deal to stop automatic, across-the-board cuts to domestic and military spending — including an estimated $218 million less to the National Park Service, according to a conservation group.
Most of the attention on the so-called “fiscal cliff” has centered on the defense side of the ledger. But the proposed park service cuts is one example of how everyday Americans might feel the pinch.
While the federal government is not saying how the cuts would be implemented, park advocates say the 8.2-percent reduction would have devastating consequences for the country’s 398 national parks.
“It would be the equivalent of closing 150 to 200 parks depending on how you looked at it,” said John Gardner, a budget and appropriations analyst with the National Parks Conservation Association, an independent advocacy group.
While Gardner cautioned that’s just one scenario meant to illustrate the size of the cuts, he stressed that some level of closures is likely, even if that means parks cutting back their hours or closing for certain days of the week.