-Authored by the NPS-
Effective March 1, 2013, Mount Rainier National Park was required to reduce its annual operating budget for Fiscal Year 2013 (FY13) by five percent due to the impacts of “sequestration” (a series of automatic, across-the-board permanent spending cuts). The park must absorb this funding cut between now and September 30, the end of the federal budget cycle, during the period when most visitors come to the park. The National Park Service’s FY13 operating budget was subsequently cut six percent under the continuing resolution passed by Congress later in March. This additional one percent cut to the National Park Service budget will be taken from projects at a national level, not park operating funds.
Mount Rainier’s annual budget last year (in FY12) was $12.08M. This included funding administered by Mount Rainier for human resources and resource Inventory and Monitoring (I&M) programs supporting many national parks in the Pacific Northwest, leaving $11.35M for Mount Rainier operations. From this budget, the park is eliminating $603,000 in planned FY13 expenses to meet the five percent mandated sequestration cuts, resulting in $10.75M available for the year. This year’s reduction is in addition to over $500,000 in operating budget cuts absorbed by the park since 2010.
To reach the new FY13 budget target, the park will take several measures:
Staffing Reductions: Anticipating some level of budget cut in FY13, park management put a hiring freeze in place last summer for most vacancies, excepting positions related to public safety and access. Typically, 78 – 80% of the park’s base budget is committed to personnel, with another 10% in largely fixed costs for fuel, utilities and fleet operations.
Support Cost Reductions: The park has eliminated most travel and training, and restricted supply purchases.
Visitor Services Reductions: Less funding equates to fewer staff to support visitor services.
Absent additional funding next fiscal year, the $603,000 reduction is a permanent adjustment to Mount Rainier’s operating budget. Further adjustments in staffing, operations and visitor services will be made next fiscal year as park managers seek to optimize use of available funding to best serve visitors and protect Mount Rainier’s incredible resources.
“We’ve had to make some difficult yet necessary adjustments in operations this year, and have strived to minimize the impact of those decisions on visitors. The park will be open and accessible and will continue to provide an array of outstanding experiences and services. We look forward to welcoming people to their park this summer,” said Superintendent Randy King.
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