The Main Stream

Mar 2, 2013 1:37 AM by Erika Flores

Saguaro National Park prepares for cuts

TUCSON - National parks have been warned to prepare for sequestration.

At Saguaro National Park that would mean a $180 thousand cut and fewer employees.

Because of these cuts, the park will not be able to hire a full buffelgrass crew this summer to prevent wildfires.

Right now the park said that grass has been cleared, but since it spreads quickly, they're concerned they won't have a full staff to keep that grass away.

Another significant change would be fewer environmental education programs for local schools.

That has parents especially concerned.

For Michael Carey, his kid's education is a priority.

"I think that environmental education is of utmost importance," said Carey.

And he thinks it should be a priority for the federal government too.

"I hope that our government would think of children like Kaitlyn when they think of cost cuts and sequester," said Carey.

Saguaro National Park educates over four thousand students a year through their environmental education program.

"It takes a community to educate a child," said Carey.

The park is swamped with requests from schools.

They already struggle to meet the demand, but starting in April, they'll have to turn down more schools.

"It's like cutting out 25 percent of the education children are going to get," said David McLachlan, a park visitor.

The looming sequestration means a 5 percent cut for Saguaro National Park.

"It seems like a small cut, but it really does dig into the bone," said Darla Sidles with Saguaro National Park.

Those cuts also mean fewer guided hikes.

"Not only is it going to have an effect on employment but it's going to have a negative effect the education," said McLachlan.

It's a hands-on education that Carey hopes can continue feeding kids' curiosity about the environment.

The park does have docents, volunteers who enjoy working at both the east and west Saguaro National Park, but the problem is national parks can't be run solely on docents.

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