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National Parks Traveler Podcast Episode 222

Debt Ceiling Crisis And The Parks

By Jess Repanshek – May 14th, 2023

While spring is slowly giving way to summer in many parts of the country, with visitors gaining more and more access to the National Park System, a stand-off in Washington over the country’s debt ceiling very likely would greatly disrupt operations in the parks. It was just a decade ago that a federal budget sequestration, that is a forced cut across all federal agencies’ budgets as part of the Budget Control Act, led to closed campgrounds, Sunday closures of National Park System units, and 900 permanent positions that went unfilled. For the National Park Service, the sequestration led to a 5 percent budget cut that also led to a reduction in invasive plant control at the parks, a reduction in maintenance of fences and building repairs, science and research activities, and natural resource monitoring.

In Washington today, House Republicans want to see some pretty stiff budget cuts in return for agreeing to raise the debt ceiling. According to the New York Times, one outcome, if the funding cap’s proposal put forth by the Republicans is approved, would be a 51 percent reduction in the Interior Department’s budget.

How devastating might that be to the National Park Service and the National Park System? We’re going to explore that question with Mike Murray, chair of the Coalition to Protect America’s National Parks, and John Garder, senior director of Budget and Appropriations at the National Parks Conservation Association.

Click here to listen to the NPT Podcast.