EDITOR’S NOTE: The Park IS open. You can enjoy trails and other amenities.
While the sequestration – the automatic, across-the-board permanent spending cuts that was triggered by the Federal Government’s inability to come to a budget deal – is a largely ephemeral concept for most so far, it has some very real consequences for Leelanau’s #1 tourist attraction.
On March 1, 2013, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore was required to reduce its annual budget by 5%. That’s a $234,000 reduction from a budget of $4,676,000, and as the fiscal year ends September 30, they have just 7 months to make the required reductions. Superintendent Dusty Shultz explains that, “The park remains open, welcoming visitors and continuing to protect the resources entrusted to our care.”
Here are the major actions being taken to implement the cut:
- Staffing and fixed costs like utilities make up about 98% of the park’s budget, and they shortened 22 seasonal positions and cut 5 seasonal jobs.
- Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive will not open until Memorial Day Weekend and will close after Labor Day.
- Ranger programs, including environmental education programs for school groups, will not be available until Memorial Day Weekend and will cease after Labor Day.
- Other than those at the Visitor Center and campgrounds, restrooms and trash cans will not be available until Memorial Day Weekend and will close after Labor Day. This includes the Manitou Islands.
- Mowing of picnic areas and historic farmsteads will be sharply reduced.
- Protection and monitoring of the endangered Piping Plover will be sharply reduced.
- Follow-up control of invasive plants such as black locust will be sharply reduced.
Photo credit: Manitou Island Park Ranger by lee.ekstrom