Effective March 1, 2013, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore (National Lakeshore) was required by “sequestration” (a series of automatic, across-the-board permanent spending cuts) to reduce its annual budget by five percent. The park must absorb that cut in the remaining seven months of this fiscal year that ends September 30. The federal law imposing sequestration requires that each park take this cut.
For Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, this amounts to a $234,000 reduction from a budget of $4,676,000. The park cut travel, training, overtime, and supply purchases, and reduced the number and length of seasonal employee positions to meet the required spending reduction. The park was not given the option of furloughing permanent employees.
While the National Lakeshore takes the actions necessary to comply with sequestration, Superintendent Dusty Shultz noted that, “The park remains open, welcoming visitors and continuing to protect the resources entrusted to our care.”
Following are the major actions being taken to implement the cut:
(Note: About 98 percent of the park’s budget pays for salaries and fixed costs like utilities)
- Shortened Seasonal Positions: 22
- Cut Seasonal Positions: 5
Reduced staffing will reduce park operations in the following ways:
Visitor Services and Facilities:
- 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.
- These actions are expected to affect over 250,000 visitors to the park, including 10,000 school children.
- 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