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Sequestration cuts take hold

By Fritz Mayer
March 6, 2013

REGION — With sequestration, or across-the-board spending cuts now the law of the land, at least for the time being, federal entities of all stripes are being asked to make due with less. For the National Park Service (NPS), that means cutting the budget by 5%. For the Upper Delaware Scenic and Recreational River, that works out to about $164,000 for the remainder of this year.

NPS Superintendent Sean McGuiness said he will not be filling the position of facility manager, which is vacant due to a recent retirement. Additionally, three seasonal positions will not be filled this year: a law enforcement position, an interpretive employee who would lead walks and make presentations, and a maintenance employee who makes sure the trash is collected and the lawn is mown.

Because of the timing of the sequestration, the 5% cut must be absorbed over seven months as opposed to a full year. Because NPS funds the Upper Delaware Council, sequestration also means a cut to that budget of about $15,000.

Nationwide, NPS is looking at a loss of $85 billion. On a conference call with reporters on February 22, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar said the cuts, if they hold, will mean “reduced hours of operation for visitors centers, shorter seasons, closing of campgrounds, hiking trails and other recreational areas when there is insufficient staff to ensure the protection of visitors, the staff and resources.”

Other impacts

Lawmakers must vote on a continuing resolution before March 27 to allow the federal government to keep functioning. It’s not clear if they will restore funds to various parts of the budget in that process, and, if they don’t, cuts are expected in a wide range of programs that receive federal support. Some examples follow:

• Vaccine programs for children will be cut. In Pennsylvania, some 5,280 fewer children will receive vaccines for such illnesses as mumps and measles. In New York, the number would be 7,170.

• Low-income children would also be pushed out of Head Start programs. In New York, the number would be 4,300; in Pennsylvania, 2,300 children would be affected.

• Federal funds that help pay for meals for seniors will be cut. In Pennsylvania, the amount will be $849,000; in New York, the amount is $1.45 million.

• Federal funds used to prevent pollution from hazardous waste and pesticides and ensure clean water and good air quality will be cut. In Pennsylvania, the cut will be $5.7 million; in New York, the figure is $12.9 million.