HARKERS ISLAND — Cape Lookout National Seashore will cut travel, training, overtime and supply purchases and reduce its number of seasonal and permanent employee positions to meet the required spending reduction forced by sequestration.
The seashore was required to reduce its annual budget by 5 percent. It must absorb that cut in the remainder of this fiscal year that ends Sept. 30. The federal law imposing sequestration requires that each park make such a cut.
For Cape Lookout National Seashore, this amounts to a $123,417 reduction from a budget of $2,468,348. Despite the actions being taken, the park remains open and staff will continue to protect the resources in the parks’ care.
“We recognize that these decisions will have impacts on the visitors to the park, but they could not be avoided with the reduction in the budget,” said Superintendent Pat Kenney in a press release.
Following are the major actions being taken in response to the budget cut:
Staffing (Note: 84 percent percent of the park’s budget pays for salaries and fixed costs like utilities).
Unfilled Permanent Positions:
• One administrative support assistant – this full-time position provides support to the park staff in human resource management, purchasing of supplies and materials, contracting of services and general office support. These duties will have to be absorbed by other staff within the park.
Unfilled Seasonal Positions:
• One park ranger in the Interpretation and Education Division – This position develops and presents educational programs, develops exhibits, responds to correspondence and works in park visitor centers.
• One visitor use assistant that was planned to take reservations for climbing the lighthouse.
Park operations: Reduced staffing will reduce park operations in the following ways:
• The Harkers Island Visitor Center will be closed on weekends beginning on Sunday until further notice.
• The Core Sound Waterfowl Museum and Heritage Center located on park land adjacent to the visitor center will be open on Saturdays, from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. and Sundays from 2 p.m. until 5 p.m.
• The Light Station Visitor Center and Keepers’ Quarters Museum at the Cape Lookout Lighthouse will be open seven days per week, from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. until October.
• Ranger-led interpretive programs offered at the Harkers Island Visitor Center on weekends will be discontinued beginning Sunday.
• Ranger-led interpretive programs offered at the Cape Lookout Lighthouse, typically during the summer, from mid-May to mid-September, will be discontinued.
• Ticket reservations, available in previous years for climbing the Cape Lookout Lighthouse will be discontinued. Tickets will be available at the Light Station Visitor Center, near the lighthouse, on a first-come, first-served basis.
• Printing of 30,000 copies of the Seashore newspaper and about 20,000 copies of more than 14 information bulletins will be eliminated. The newspaper and bulletins will be available in digital format on the park’s website.
• Installation of replacement road signs along Highway 70, Highway 12 and Highway 101 that direct visitors to five Seashore departure sites in Carteret County will be delayed.