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Friday, March 15, 2013

Sequester Cuts Hit Yellowstone

This image provided by the National Park Service shows a front loader clearing off a snow-blocked Sylvan Pass inside Yellowstone National Park May 11, 2011 in Montana. (National Park Service/AP)

This image provided by the National Park Service shows a front loader clearing off a snow-blocked Sylvan Pass inside Yellowstone National Park May 11, 2011 in Montana. (National Park Service/AP)

Evidence of sequester cutbacks are appearing across the country. The National Archives is reducing its tours, a handful of federal agencies have sent out furloughs and warnings of furloughs to its employees and the Department of Education has sent out letters to parents and students that fees on PLUS loans will be raised.

Yellowstone National Park is also anticipating the five percent scheduled cut to the National Park Service by cutting back on snow removal.

Yellowstone had been scheduled to start clearing snow from some high mountain passes last week, so the park could open on May 3. Now the park is putting off clearing the roads until March 18. It’s also reducing the size of the snow removal crews.

That could mean a delay in the park opening by up to three weeks. Who cares? Local businesses do.

The park expects to save between $150,000 and $250,000 by delaying plowing by two weeks. But area officials expect to lose around $2 million in revenue in the first two weeks of the park’s delayed opening.

Wyoming Governor Matt Mead recently gave the green light to use state plows and crews to do the clearing, dismissing previous concerns about liability.

However, Gov. Mead is calling on municipalities to raise the funds to pay for the use of state resources.

Wall Street Journal reporter Caroline Porter has been covering the delayed plowing. She told Here & Now that Cody, Wyoming, alone will need to raise $100,000 by April 1 to foot its portion of the bill.

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Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

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