Crater Lake budget cuts expected to continue

KLAMATH FALLS, Ore. — Crater Lake National Park visitors are likely to start seeing the effects of a tight federal budget in 2014, Superintendent Craig Ackerman said.

The park's budget next year will take hits from a federal pay raise of 1 percent and the continued effects of the automatic cuts known as sequestration, he told the Klamath Falls Herald and News.

Ackerman said this year's cuts were handled by not replacing some people who transferred or retired.

The likely effects next year: The closed Lost Creek Campground won't reopen, the park won't hire seasonal employees, and nonessential snowplowing will be halted.

Oregon's only national park gets hundreds of inches of snow in a typical winter. Cutting back on plowing means part of the road circling the lake, East Rim Drive, probably will be cleared only as the snow melts on its own.

The park's current operating budget is $5 million. Combined with previous cuts, those expected next year would mean it has been reduced by about $500,000 since 2012.

"You are likely to see a significantly reduced presence at the park," Ackerman said.

Ackerman said last summer's 16-day shutdown, which came during a busy season, cost the park $15,000 to $25,000 in entrance fees, and the concessionaire that operates Crater Lake Lodge and other facilities estimated its loss at more than $300,000.

More than 1,200 school youth who had planned visits through a school-in-the-parks program were turned away, said Marsha McCabe, the park's chief of interpretation.

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