Friday, August 23, 2013

National Parks and the Sequester

Yesterday I ran across the following link tweeted by Gettysburg College's Peter Carmichael:

The article describes the effect that the federal sequester has had on National Parks around the country. These parks, already critically underfunded, have had to make due with even less since last winter. The parks have had to cut hours at visitor centers, cancel educational programming, close roads, and operate with skeleton staffing. But I think Carmichael's brief twitter commentary on the article hit on another side-effect, perhaps one that will have long-lasting consequences.

While I don't speak from personal experience, my understanding is that it can be difficult to find your way into a Park Service career. With limited position openings, crowded applicant pools, and jobs that don't necessarily pay a great deal, embarking on a career path in the Park Service requires dedication. The federal sequester has made this process even more difficult, and if the funding challenges continue, it seems to me that it will become very difficult for the Park Service to recruit top young professionals. The job postings just aren't there, and when they are, the positions come with huge challenges. It can be frustrating to try and accomplish your goals when you have no funds to work with. On top of all this, it has become the norm for all federal employees to work constantly with the threat of furlough or even a complete government shutdown over their heads. Understanding these challenges will likely cause many young professional to think twice about heading down this career path.

I give a lot of credit to those persevering through these challenges. The Park Service brings so much to the public good. I try not to get political here on this blog, but with the funding debates coming up this fall, those of us who feel strongly about the value of our National Parks need to stand up and do whatever we can to help get funding back to where it should be. Every little bit helps, like contacting your representatives in Washington.

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