Rainier funding in jeopardy, group says

The Chronicle (Centralia)January 19, 2014 

The U.S. Congress is approaching another round of budget cuts, and the National Park Service could be on the chopping block.

The Seattle-based Environment Washington Research & Policy Center said in a news release last week that its new analysis, “Death by a Thousand Cuts,” exposes the financial challenges those cuts could pose to Olympic National Park and Mount Rainier National Park.

“At Mount Rainier National Park, campgrounds were forced to open two to six weeks later than past years, and over 400 formal interpretive programs and informal roving interpretation programs have been eliminated,” Anusha Narayanan, field associate with Environment Washington, said in a news release. “We don’t want a death by a thousand cuts for Mount Rainier National Park.”

According to Environment Washington, park closures during last fall’s government shutdown capped off the third straight year in which Congress cut funding to the National Park Service operating budget

According to Environment Washington, at Olympic National Park, there was a budget reduction of approximately $640,000. At Mount Rainier, there was a budget reduction of $603,000, resulting in the superintendent leaving numerous full- and part-time positions unfilled.

While the budget deal passed in December may allow for some increase in the park’s budget, it is up to Congressional spending committees to decide the actual funding levels this month.

“We urge Sen. Patty Murray to continue standing up for places like Olympic National Park and Mount Rainier National Park by ensuring they’re provided the full funding they desperately need during the upcoming budget negotiations,” Narayanan said.

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