The "fiscal cliff" is looming. If Congress and the president don’t reach a budget deal by the end of the year, a whole host of budget cuts will be automatically implemented come Jan. 1. The majority of news outlets are focusing on taxes going up, but one side of the story that isn’t getting as much press is the significant impact fiscal cliff budget cuts could have on the National Park Service.


A full-page ad in the Sunday New York Times warned readers of this impact. Sponsored by the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA), the ad featured an antlered ungulate with a sign around his neck that reads, “Sorry We’re Closed.” A paragraph at the bottom of the ad explained the situation to readers and then directed them to the Keep Parks Open section of the NPCA website for more information.


The paragraph reads:


"National park budgets will be slashed if Congress and the President fail to craft a balanced approach to address the country's growing deficit, and that could mean closing as many as 200 of America's favorite places. Our parks represent 1/14th of one percent of the federal budget and generate $30 billion in economic activity. And if you've ever set foot in a park, you already know they're priceless. Help us persuade our leaders to do the right thing."


In addition to park closures, going off the fiscal cliff will also impact the National Park Service in other ways:

  • Unmaintained roads and trails
  • Fewer park rangers
  • Fewer facilities available in the parks that remain open

Failure to reach a budget agreement will also have impacts on a variety of environmental programs, including the Environmental Protection Agency’s numerous research projects. For more information, read The ‘fiscal cliff’ and the environment.


Related on MNN: Explore your national parks — and think of more reasons to keep them open


The fiscal cliff and our national parks
If the nation goes off the proverbial 'fiscal cliff,' the National Park Service could face widespread closures.