While celebrating the 101st birthday of America’s National Park Service (NPS), Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke told ABC affiliate WLOS News 13:
‘there wouldn’t be any cuts to staffing, instead, restructuring the way the National Parks Service operates.’
But earlier this year, Secretary Zinke was advocating for a budget that would cut $360 million from the bureau, eliminating 1,242 full-time employees. From E&E News:
The Trump administration has proposed a $2.55 billion budget for NPS in fiscal 2018, a cut of $360 million from the 2017 omnibus package (Greenwire, May 23).
The green book, which is prepared by staffers in the NPS and Interior budget offices, indicates that the Park Service would lose the equivalent of 1,242 full-time positions if Congress passes the president’s budget.
And while Congress may have spared NPS from such drastic cuts for now, the park service is still suffering from the Trump administration’s hiring freeze, which is blocking NPS from filling thousands of jobs. From Motherboard:
In the short term, this means that the 437 full-time jobs the National Park Service has posted to USAJobs.gov will remain vacant for the foreseeable future. In addition, the NPS hires about 8,000 seasonal workers every spring to deal with the influx of visitors during the spring, summer, and fall. These include park rangers, educational and custodial staff, and guides, and other support staff that are absolutely imperative to the normal upkeep and maintenance of the National Park System.
Secretary Zinke’s secret ‘restructuring’ plan doesn’t seem to add up. Despite what he says in front of the cameras, he has consistently advocated for a budget that undermines our outdoor heritage by slashing some 4,000 Interior positions, reducing access to public lands, and cutting another $30 million from the park’s deferred maintenance backlog of $11.5 billion. Zinke has offered no explanation as to how he plans to maintain staffing levels with these draconian cuts.