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Cuts at 22 Nat'l Park Properties in Virginia Expected to Affect Tourism

Shenandoah Natl Park. Parks set to lose hours and employees as a result of the sequester.
Shenandoah Natl Park. Parks set to lose hours and employees as a result of the sequester.
April 19, 2013

RICHMOND, Va. – Virginia has 22 properties managed by the National Park Service. Many contain areas for hiking, boating and camping, while others offer educational opportunities at historical sites.

Now there's concern that across-the-board cuts mandated by Congress with the sequester will force cutbacks on hours and staff at those sites.

Pamela Goddard, Chesapeake and Virginia program manager with the National Parks Conservation Association, says the timing couldn't be worse – as summer kicks in soon and as parks in Virginia and around the country celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, which brings in a lot of tourism dollars.

"It's going to have a huge impact,” she says. “Tourism contributes $20.4 billion to Virginia's economy. Tourism is a huge economic generator. Tourists provide $1.3 billion in state and local taxes."

Goddard says the budget cuts will affect various services, causing bathroom closures, site closures and employee layoffs and cutbacks. She says last year 24 million people came to Virginia to visit sites managed by the park service.

Goddard understands that many government agencies are affected by the budget cuts, but she maintains that the park budgets should be spared – especially at a time when the park service should be scaling up for the busy season ahead.

"The National Park Service budget is only 1/15th of 1 percent of the federal budget,” she says. “And every dollar that's spent at national parks, brings back $10 in return, so parks are a huge economic generator for the country and for the state."

Monique Coppola, Public News Service - VA