Senator John Thune (R-S.D.) today sent a letter to National Park Service (NPS) Director Jonathan Jarvis questioning whether the NPS is playing politics in deciding to close Wind Cave National Park’s 64-site Elk Mountain Campground. The NPS decision to close the Elk Mountain Campground came following the implementation of sequestration and appears to substantiate reports that the NPS is intentionally trying to make the cuts more visible to the public. Thune’s letter seeks information from the NPS regarding its analysis that closing the Elk Mountain Campground, which generates revenue for the park, and reducing visitor center hours is more cost-effective than making targeted cuts elsewhere.
“It seems difficult to say with a straight face that completely eliminating a source of revenue for the National Park Service is a smart, targeted cut,” said Thune. “Instead of cuts that reduce wasteful and duplicative spending, the administration’s politically-calculated cuts are targeting facilities like the campground that actually serve as a revenue source for the park. It appears NPS is just another agency following the White House’s lead in trying to find the cuts that can trigger a press release before looking to internal cost-saving measures that are less news worthy.”Thune’s letter requests a response from NPS regarding the NPS and Wind Cave National Park sequestration strategies by March 20, 2013. The full text of Thune’s letter can be accessed here.