Sequestration Cuts to Hit Alaska Hard
Slashed budgets and hiring freezes bring stinging cuts, confusion to many federal agencies in the Last Frontier
ANCHORAGE - Sequestration, the automatic budget cuts that many federal agencies are moving to implement as of March 1, are set to bring furloughs, hiring freezes, and interruption of services around the country.
And Alaska is no exception.
“We're about a $100 million dollar operation in Alaska,” said John Quinley, a spokesman for the National Park Service. He said that budget cuts for the NPS “will collectively add up to about five million dollars” in cuts across Alaska.
Quinley said those cuts will delay or eliminate hundreds of seasonal hires, workers who often perform jobs that are vital to park operations.
“Bringing on seasonals later could mean a delay in opening of facilities, or just fewer programs offered to visitors,” he said. At popular sites like Exit Glacier in Kenai Fjords National Park or the front country in Denali National Park, Quinley said that could mean delays in opening the parks come spring.
“We should begin plowing the park road within the next couple of weeks,” Quinley said, referring to the main road into Denali. “That usually involves seasonal workers on the road crew, and if we're delayed in doing that for very long, that will delay the opening of the park road.”
The sequestration also means getting to, from, and around the state could be come a challenge.
Now, as each agency scrambles to figure out what sequestration will mean for them, Quinley said everyone is sure to feel the sting of budget cuts.