Mammoth Cave Facing Cuts Because of Sequestration

By: Lauren Forsythe Email
By: Lauren Forsythe Email

National parks all across the country are being forced to take a five percent budget cut because of sequestration.

Locally, Mammoth Cave National Park was forced to cut hundreds of thousands of dollars from their budget.

Mammoth Cave National Park Superintendent Sarah Craighead was notified last month she had to cut five percent of the park's budget.

With short notification, and the cuts going into effect March 1st, there was nothing the park could do to make up the difference.

Craighead says most of their dollars go toward visitor's services.

When they were notified about budget cuts in February, there was no other place to cut from.

"We'll cut 11 seasonal positions out of our staffing-- three of those run Houchen's Ferry and carries passengers back and forth everyday. We will also be cutting seven seasonals that run cave tours," Craighead says.

Houchen's Ferry is now closed and two four-hour tours have been cut.

Craighead says 10,000 people use Houchen's Ferry in Brownsville each year-- it has been open for more than a century, and 28,000 visitors now won't be able to go on a tour.

"The park generates about $33 million in the local community and about 500 jobs so some of that money and jobs will be affected," Craighead says.

$316,000 has been cut going into the peak tourism season, which she says could affect the South Central Kentucky Communities.

Now, Craighead says it is up to the Federal government to fix their current situation.

"If they are able to pass some type of budget package that does not require 5 percent cuts then we will change plans accordingly but until we know that we have to plan as if 5 percent cuts are being taken," she says.

Whether or not President Obama and Congress come to an agreement, she says tourists will continue to be the number one priority.

"It is the mission of the National Park Service and Mammoth Cave National Park to serve the public and protect the parks. We will continue to do that to the best of our ability regardless of our funding levels," Craighead says.

These cuts will be in effect until September.

After that, she says a new annual budget will be issued, and she fears there could be more cuts.


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