Sequester hits northern Wisconsin national parks
By: By Mike Simonson, Wisconsin Public Radio, Superior Telegram
As boaters and campers arrive at northern Wisconsin’s national parks this summer, they’ll see plenty of nature but not as many park rangers.
The effects of the federal sequester budget cuts are doubly tough on the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore. The Park had already been cut 5 percent since 2010.
Apostle Islands National Lakeshore Superintendent Bob Krumanaker says he’s had to perform micro-surgery on his budget. And he says his park’s immune system is on life support. The 5 percent cut this year means fewer programs, shorter hours, slower service and cutting half of his 14 seasonal workers.
“Toilets will be serviced less frequently. That means there’ll be more times when people won’t find toilet paper,” Krumanaker said. “They may find the lawns longer then they’d like. Things are not going to look as good as they normally do. More important than the aesthetics, it’s less maintenance on historic structures and on trails.”
There are more 19th century lighthouses in the Apostle Islands per capita than anywhere in the park service. And Krumanaker says it’s serious business to cut in this Lake Superior 21 island group.
“Rangers will be more scarce and that also means that should there be the inevitable need for searches and rescues, while we will certainly still be responding, there’ll be fewer people out there close by, the response times could be longer,” he said.
Most programs and services will continue, as they will at the St. Croix National Scenic Riverway in northwestern Wisconsin. Resource Management Chief Julie Galonska says they too are taking a 5 percent budget hit, losing nine of their 36 seasonal employees.
“Because we have fewer people, the riverway’s a big place. It’s going to take us longer to respond,” Galonska said. “We will be contacting fewer visitors through interpretive and community outreach programs. We’ve just had to pull back the number of programs we are actually able to do.”
Both expect attendance to stay at normal levels, 180,000 visitors to the Apostle Islands and 250,000 to the St. Croix Riverway.