NATCHEZ, Miss.--If you enjoy a scenic ride on the Natchez Trace Parkway, then you should know that some of the services offered along the way could be affected by sequestration, the monster spending cuts set to come in March.
About 25 of the "comfort stops" will have to shut down at intervals, at least temporarily, because some of the seasonal staff will lose their jobs if the president and Congress can't reach a deal by March 1. And many analysts are guessing that a deal is not likely.
A memo from the National Park Service was obtained by the Coalition of National Park Service Retirees. The group released a statement Wednesday.
"Sequestration will result in a much reduced workforce, shutdowns of certain national park areas altogether or for extended period of times, closure of visitor centers and services, restrictions on the availability of campgrounds, visitor centers, comfort stations, and trail and other backcountry access. Additionally, the ability to respond to emergencies including wildland fires will be sharply reduced."
The Trace, which goes from Natchez to Nashville and covers Mississippi, Tennessee and Alabama, is one of many famous American parks set to get cuts, according to the memo.
"Natchez Trace Parkway in MS, AL & TN a reduction in seasonal employees will cause closure of 25 comfort stations one day per week, affecting more than 200,000 visitors."
All the cuts that are likely to come because Congress cannot find a way to reduce spending and the deficit aren't clear yet. In Mississippi, thousands of defense jobs are expected to be lost.
Sequestration stems from the 2011 "Supercommittee" and its bi-partisan failure to come up with a solution to the fiscal crisis. One of the built-in consequences was the slashing of nearly $800 billion, with $500 billion of that hitting the defense sector hard. That includes military operations.
As far as national parks go, if you're going on vacation to places like Yellowstone or the Grand Canyon, you'll see a noticeable reduction in services as jobs fall away.