NPS-Closed Campgrounds,Fewer Seasonal Employees,Sunday Closures

Sequestration hits National Park Service, RVers and campers.

Closed campgrounds, Sunday closures of National Park System units, and 900 permanent positions that will go unfilled are just some of the latest details of how the National Park Service is responding to the ongoing federal budget sequestration.

* At Wind Cave National Park in South Dakota, officials said the 64-site Elk Mountain Campground would remain closed. That move eliminates the need for two summer employees to maintain the campground and interpretive rangers to present evening campfire programs, park officials said.

“The sequestration has forced us to make some tough decisions that will impact visitors to Wind Cave National Park,” said Superintendent Vidal Davila. “People will have fewer opportunities to tour Wind Cave, the park’s primary resource, as a result of less staff.”

The 5 percent budget cut also will lead to a reduction in invasive plant control at the park, maintenance of fences and building repairs, science and research activities, natural resource monitoring, and wildlife management programs.

* In Alabama, Park Service officials said the sequestration forces them to close the Tuskegee Institute National Historic Site, Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site, and the Selma to Montgomery National Historic Trail on Sundays until further notice.

* At Voyageurs National Park in Minnesota, the cuts could lead to delays in snow plowing this spring on the Rainy Lake Ice Road, the Kab-Ash Ice Road, and the entrance to the Rainy Lake Visitor Center as park officials look to reduce fuel consumption and overtime pay.

Park officials say that when snowfall occurs before or after regular park operating hours, snow removal will be delayed until personnel report for normal duty hours. If significant snowfall occurs during weekends the Rainy Lake Visitor Center may be closed.

* At Badlands National Park in South Dakota, the 5 percent budget cut equates to a 24 percent reduction in seasonal hires for positions that support interpretive talks and walks, school programs, custodial services, road, fence and building repair and maintenance, science and research activities, natural resource monitoring, and search and rescue operations.

“The seasonal workforce is the heart of the park,” said Superintendent Eric Brunnemann. “This sort of loss cuts deeply into our ability to serve the public, something we are dedicated to doing every day.”

* Across the entire park system, 900 permanent positions that currently are vacant will not be filled, Park Service Director Jon Jarvis said Friday in a memo to the entire agency.

“In an organization with 15,000 permanent employees, 900 vacant jobs have a profound effect. Every activity will be affected. Some impacts will be immediate, others will accumulate over time,” Director Jarvis said. “Fewer law enforcement rangers and USPP officers mean lower levels of protection and longer response times. Fewer maintenance personnel mean that parks may have to close facilities completely when breakdowns occur – and that the $12 billion maintenance backlog will continue to grow.”

The memo did not, however, mention how many vacant positions the Park Service has been carrying in recent months.

Director Jarvis said the agency, system-wide, would see seasonal hirings drop by more than 1,000 employees, would furlough some staff in the U.S. Park Police, and would ban all non-essential travel.

“‘Essential’ travel includes only the following: travel that is critical for health and safety, and travel to attend training required to retain current, mission critical certifications – such as contracting warrants. International travel is cancelled,” wrote the director.

Director Jarvis also noted that the most recent continuing resolution to fund the federal government expires March 27.

“We do not know how, or if, the debate on a new continuing resolution will impact the remainder of Fiscal Year 2013 or the Fiscal Year 2014 budget negotiations. For now, please assume that we will operate for the remainder of the year at the 95 percent spending level envisioned in your sequestration plans,” he wrote.

From nationalparkstravel.com by NPT staff.

Are you a happy camper? If not read thes tips…

Trashy Campground image

It’s bound to happen if you are an RVer.  You will get to your camp site and realize that you have some less than ideal neighbors.  It may be little things such as loose trash or too much noise, or even sever such as people who try to get confrontational.  The best thing that you can do in these situations is to be the better camper and hope that they will pick up on some of your routines.

Being a great camper means more than having the best equipment, it means allowing everyone around you to have a great time without causing any problems.  Here are five tips from your-rv-lifestyle.com on how to become a better camper.

  1. Follow the rules: Individual parks usually hand you a copy of their rules when you register. Adhering to these rules is one of the basics of campground etiquette. It makes things easier for everyone involved – you, your neighbors and the park operators. Typical guidelines include reduced speed limits on campground roads for the safety of all involved. You are typically expected to unhook a dinghy before driving to your site. There are usually defined quiet hours when you should keep the noise down, turn off outdoor lights, generators – basically, the party is over.
  2. Eliminate pet peeves: Literally. Pick up after your pets. Stop excessive or extended barking. Don’t leave a howling dog unattended to bother the neighbors. Use a leash. Even if Spot is friendly, not everyone is an animal lover. Good pet-etiquette on your part helps ensure that the many RVers with pets are welcome at campgrounds.
  3. Parking the rig: Sometimes it is very clear how to orient the rig on a site – you may even have a cement pad. But in many cases, the only guideposts will be the hookup for electric and sewer. General campground etiquette is to stay on your side of that hook-up, and not have awnings or slide-outs encroaching on the site next door. Look at the campground map for a clue about preferred orientation. Or, look around you to see how other rigs are angled, if they are centered on sites or close to the utility hook up. You will get the most out of the space you have (and so will your neighbors) if you are all situated the same way. There are bound to be exceptions – we have been in many campgrounds with no uniformity in the size, shape or orientation of sites. The main objective in these cases is to just “guess the site” and fit the RV into it. But even then, the idea is to park in a way that gets everyone their fair share of privacy and room under their respective awnings. Common sense and campground etiquette go hand in hand.
  4. Late arrivals: If you are arriving at a park after normal quiet hours, attempt some degree of stealth behavior. Not that it is easy to be unobtrusive pulling in an RV. But keep the set-up to the minimum required for the night. Your neighbors will understand that you need to pull in and hook up. They have probably been in the same situation. But they will lose patience if they spend an hour listening to loud conversation, slamming doors and arguments over how to level the rig. Do what is essential and remember that tomorrow is another day. The same sort of courtesy should be used if you are making an early morning departure. Don’t keep the engine idling for an hour before you leave. Tidy up your campsite the night before.
  5. Sewer connections: Do them right. Make them secure. No torn hoses. In most places, your sewer connection faces the side where you neighbor has their “patio” area. Another time where being discreet and careful is part of good campground etiquette.

There are more tips in the article, and I recommend that you give it a good read through. When you become a better camper, you will have a better time on the road. If you are looking for a new RV to become the best camper you can be in, then check out Lerch RV, Pennsylvania‘s largest travel trailer dealer.