President Donald Trump’s proposed 2018 budget includes sweeping reductions to many programs and departments, including the EPA and Health and Human Services. National parks, including the 23 in Alaska, are not spared.
An explanation of the spending plan from the Department of Interior notes that parks saw record numbers of visitors in 2016. It says the spending cuts would have an impact on services to the public.
In a press release, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke says that while ‘tough decisions’ had to be made, he’s confident the department will find ‘innovative solutions for cost reduction.’
Alaska’s most-visited national park is in Skagway. Heavy cruise ship traffic brings close to a million visitors to the Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park. The proposed cuts would hit that park’s approximately $3 million budget by more than $200,000.
Denali National Park would see about a $1 million cut to its $14.6 million budget. Glacier Bay National Park would sustain a $350,000 hit. Kenai Fjords National Park is slated for a $280,000 reduction. And Sitka National Historical Park would see a $150,000 loss.
Alaska Parks officials referred questions to a national spokesperson. NPS Chief of Public Affairs Tom Crosson said it is too soon to comment on how the cuts would impact specific parks and states.
Trump’s spending plan now goes to Congress. National news outlets have reported that many of the president’s proposals are unlikely to gain Congressional approval.
This is the third time this year that the federal government has caused uncertainty for Alaska national parks. In February, seasonal job recruitment was delayed because of a federal hiring freeze. Earlier this month, Congress passed a short-term spending bill to avoid a government shutdown.