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BADLANDS NATIONAL PARK, INTERIOR, S.D. - Badlands National Park will make a 5% across-the-board cut in its operating budget due to sequestration, an action that will impact visitor services.
A 5% budget cut necessitates a 24% reduction in the seasonal workforce that supports interpretive talks and walks, school programs, custodial services, road, fence and building repair and maintenance, science and research activities, natural resource monitoring, and search and rescue operations. Staff duties will be shifted to support front-line visitor services first, forcing other necessary operations to be deferred.
"The seasonal workforce is the heart of the park," said Superintendent Eric Brunnemann. "This sort of loss cuts deeply into our ability to serve the public, something we are dedicated to doing every day."
Nationally, in-park concessioners and cooperating associations are responsible for over 25,000 jobs, many of these seasonal in nature. Additionally, countless jobs in gateway communities are supported seasonally by national park visitors who spend on services such as lodging, food and beverage, entertainment and recreation.
In 2011, Badlands National Park welcomed 870,741 park visitors who generated $22,203,000 in economic benefit to the local economy, including supporting 317 local jobs. Most of this visitation occurred between April and October, at the height of the seasonal operation. Regionally, national parks in the Black Hills of South Dakota served 3,807,375 visitors in 2011, generating $165 million and supporting 2,651 jobs in our neighboring communities.
The National Park Service will celebrate its hundredth anniversary in 2016. "We are struggling to continue preserving park resources, and serving the visiting public and our local communities," said Brunnemann. "Our upcoming anniversary reminds us that telling our stories, the stories of the American people is a privilege that we take seriously."