Sequester could hit Gulf Island National Seashore hard

OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) - If sequestration goes into effect in two days, the National Park Service will feel the impact.  Gulf Islands National Seashore could see $359,000 trimmed from its $7 million budget for the rest of the current fiscal year. That means some favorite programs and other events at the park may be a thing of the past.

"The greatest impact is that it's going to limit our ability to hire the same number of summer staff, our seasonal staff that we normally hire and those are the folks who do an awful lot of the work that directly impacts visitors," explained Superintendent Dan Brown who heads up the Gulf Islands National Seashore.

What kind of work does that include?  "Clean rest rooms, mow grass, provide interpretive programs, staff visitors centers, all of those things," Brown said.

"We do have a number of permanent positions that have gone vacant through transfers or retirement that we're going to be delayed in hiring or maybe not be able to rehire and backfill at all. So that makes us even more short staffed."

Tours at Fort Massachusetts on Ship Island may also be on the chopping block. That doesn't still well with visitors who frequent the park.

"It's just a good drawing card for the state of Mississippi," visitor Bill Dowdy said. "Why would you want to mess something up that's real good? That's what I don't understand. We've got too much messed up in America today and we need to get it straightened out."

Another visitor, Ken Welshimer, agreed that such extreme budget cuts are a bad idea.

"We use the national parks all the time when we travel the country constantly in our motorcoach and hate to see anything closed," Welshimer said.

Gulf Islands National Seashore not only includes the barrier islands of Mississippi and Davis Bayou, but a large portion of the west Florida panhandle, as well.

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