Craig The country’s national park system is beginning to feel the effects of congressional sequestration, with many parks announcing cuts as the summer tourism season approaches.
Sequestration, a series of government spending cuts that went into effect last month, has forced the National Parks Service to trim 5 percent of its budget for the remainder of the fiscal year.
Dan Johnson, chief of interpretation and visitor services at Dinosaur National Monument, said National Parks Service officials decided to have each park absorb the hit equally and asked superintendents to develop a plan to cut five percent from their respective budgets.
For Dinosaur, in western Moffat County and eastern Utah, that cut equals $170,263, Johnson said.
Although many national parks have announced cuts to programs, maintenance plans, staffing and access, Johnson said, none of Dinosaur’s sites or attractions will be affected. Plans to rehabilitate Deerlodge Park Road, which provides access to the eastern most point of the monument in Moffat County, also will continue as scheduled this summer.
“After the announcement, we made the decision to ensure the whole park remains open to the public,” Johnson said. “In order to do that, we made the decision not to fill some of our vacancies for permanent employment.”
Dinosaur officials will not fill two full-time positions this year, including one for a journeyman and one for a wildlife biologist. The monument plans to fill all of its seasonal positions, Johnson said.
Taking benefits into consideration Johnson said cutting the two positions will save Dinosaur about $150,000. Cuts to staff training, travel and supplies will make up the remaining $20,000.
Despite the fact that it’s business as usual for Dinosaur National Monument, Johnson said visitor traffic could suffer because of the nationwide media focus on national park budget cuts.
“We’re on one of those loops people tend to travel that allows them to visit multiple parks in one trip,” Johnson said. “We could be affected if people are worried about available services at other parks.”
Melody Villard, director of the Moffat County Tourism Association, said she already has launched a twice-monthly social media campaign notifying the association’s Facebook followers about roads and hiking trails that have opened at Dinosaur.
In June, the association will launch its new website, which will focus on summertime activities in Moffat County, Villard said.
“My plan is to promote the Moffat County side of the monument through the website, and I’ll probably up my Facebook posts to twice a week as more things open at Dinosaur,” Villard said.
The Quarry Visitor Center — 7 miles north of Jensen, Utah — and the Quarry Exhibit Center are open year-round. The Canyon Visitor Center, 2 miles east of the town of Dinosaur on the Moffat County side, opens Friday.
Access to Dinosaur National Monument is $10 for private vehicles and $5 for motorcycles and individuals on foot or bike. Entrance fees are valid for seven consecutive days. Annual and lifetime passes also are available.
For more information about Dinosaur National Monument, visit www.nps.gov/dino.
Joe Moylan can be reached at 875-1794 or firstname.lastname@example.org.