In the event of a government shutdown, national parks across the country would shut down. This includes Mammoth Cave National Park. Vickie Carson at Mammoth Cave says everyone at the park, with the exception of security staff, would be furloughed.
“We would close all park facilities like the visitor center and the offices and picnic area,” said Carson. “We would initiate closure of park trails and roads, but some roads that are considered ‘through roads’ would remain open.”
If lawmakers can’t work out a deal to avert a shutdown, Carson says Mammoth Cave will wait for official word from the National Park Service before beginning the process of shutting down the park. Campers and those staying at hotel at Mammoth Cave would be given 48 hours to leave.
A major tourist draw in our region is offering a chance to see the world's largest cave system for free.
Mammoth Cave National Park will offer free Mammoth Passage cave tours on Sunday, August 25, in recognition of Founders Day, the founding day of the National Park Service.
“On August 25, 1916, Congress passed the Organic Act, which established the National Park Service,” said Superintendent Sarah Craighead. “I hope many of our friends and neighbors will help us celebrate by attending one of these free tours."
The free Mammoth Passage tours will depart from the visitor center at the following times: 8:45, 10:15, 11:15, 12:00, 1:15, 2:15, 3:30, and 4:30. The ¾-mile, 1¼ hours Mammoth Passage tour is limited to 40 people. Participants need to pick up a free ticket in the visitor center before going on the tour.
Mammoth Cave National Park is overcoming federal budget cuts to register some of the strongest summer attendance in recent memory.
The park's public information officer, Vickie Carson, says four cave tours were not offered this summer because of cuts related to the federal sequestration. But that didn't stop cave tour numbers from increasing one-to-two percent this year over the same time in 2012.
"If we continue at this rate through the end of the year, we'll probably be at 405,000 visitors through the cave this year. That would be a high point for at least the last ten years," Carson told WKU Public Radio.
Carson says with gas prices still well above $3 a gallon, Mammoth Cave has remained an attractive day trip option for those within close driving range.
Mammoth Cave National Park is preparing to continue current budget cuts into the next fiscal year. The popular southern Kentucky attraction has let many full-time and seasonal positions go unfilled due to the cuts.
Mammoth Cave National Park Superintendent Sarah Craighead tells WKU Public Radio the government has informed all national parks to not expect any relief from the hit they took earlier this year from the sequestration.
"We are currently being told to plan to carry forward the cuts that we took this year, so as we start our budget effort we will plan on continuing that five-percent reduction in our budget," said Craighead. "We haven't been given any additional information regarding next year's budget."
Mammoth Cave has left several full-time positions go unfilled as part of their budget reduction, including the park electrician. Superintendent Craighead says the park is relying more on volunteer help than it normally would, and is asking for volunteers to help the park maintain its many hiking trails.
The chief of interpretation at Mammoth Cave National Park has decided to hang up his Smokey Bear hat and retire. Mike Adams, who has been with the National Park Service since 1973, said the completion of the new Mammoth Cave visitor center prompted him to make the decision.