The National Park Service is taking a big hit of $113 million in the form of furloughs and cut hours. If you go to the lake this season, think about the people who operate the trails, and provide security. News Channel 6's Courtney Elledge has more.
When you're at Lake Thurmond and see the power plant– you know that the people operating that plant and keeping our lakes and parks safe are collecting their pay check from our Federal Government.. If forced budget cuts were to affect their program — they would see a 20 percent cut in hours and pay for 2013 from the department of defense.
Scott Hyatt , Project Manager at the Army Corps of Engineers says, “That would translate to one day per week per employee, for the rest of the year. So that would be a 20 percent in work hours available to us for the rest of the year. This would be a 20 percent reduction in take home pay for the rest of the year.”
Park rangers, administration, foresters and biologists are nearly 50 people that make up the local Army Corp of Engineers office. At this time, the corp. hasn't been notified of any cuts.
“The department of defense was reviewing the continuing resolution that congress passed last year, they publicly announced that they were delaying any cuts for the next couple of weeks, and we haven't gotten any guidance on what we're going to see,” says Hyatt.
If cuts do happen, it could hinder park safety. Hyatt explains, “We would have less rangers on the ground, we usually contract with local law enforcement who provide patrols in the park, we would be doing less of that.”
The corp. would have to rely on volunteers to pick up the slack. In fact, Scott Hyatt says they've had to balance budget cuts for the past few years. A local non-profit organization from Lincoln County has helped by patrolling and taking over Petersburg camp grounds and four others.
Scott Hyatt says they plan to keep the parks open as scheduled. If budget cuts do happen– they will not close any camp grounds or parks. He says the best thing they can do is plan ahead.