By Nick Worth
The casual visitor to Petrified Forest National Park probably won’t notice any changes in the way the park is running this summer. It might even seem as though the dreaded federal budget “sequestration” never happened.
The reason there will be little discernable impact is because park administration had already taken steps to prepare for the worst.
“We’re prepared to survive through the end of September,” said Park Superintendent Brad Traver. “We have left several positions vacant in order to prepare us for this. The savings from those will get us through the rest of the fiscal year.”
According to Traver, he purposely left a total of five positions vacant at Petrified Forest.
“We’re down two positions in administration,” Traver said. “We’re down two positions in visitor services. And we’re also down one position in maintenance.”
Traver noted that presently his administrative office is “challenged” in trying to take over the workload of the two vacant positions. He said volunteer or seasonal employees may be used to fill those positions for the short term.
That will also be the case in Visitor Services.
“We’ll be able to weather the next few months, but there will be fewer interpretive programs,” Traver said. “We’ll be relying more on volunteer and seasonal staff for our visitor services, but we will not be able to manage long term that way.
“We saw it coming,” he added. “If we hadn’t, we would have had to cut visitor service even more for the summer and we didn’t want to have to do that.”
Traver repeated the fix is only a short-term solution.
“Our hope is that the government will not make this a permanent thing and that it will only be temporary,” he said. “If this extends beyond the end of September we’ll have to put together a new strategy”
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By Nick Worth