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Updated Feb 21, 2013 - 12:06 pm

Grand Canyon, other national parks facing big cuts

PHOENIX — Automatic $85 billion budget cuts will take effect next Friday if Congress cannot reach agreement on the so-called sequester and national parks and the states economy will feel the bite.

According to a leaked Park Service memo, Grand Canyon, Saguaro, Petrified Forest national parks will take a 5 percent cut each.

Arizona’s three national parks and almost two dozen national monuments pump $12 billion into the state each year.

Kevin Dahl with the National Parks Conservation Association said hours of operation and services will be reduced at the Grand Canyon and he believes an unknown number of employees will lose jobs. The opening of the east and west Rim drives would also be delayed.

“Park rangers who welcome people and provide safety,” Dahl said. “We could see park closures and roads closed.”

The sequestration could put a big dent in local economies because for every federal dollar spent on parks, $10 is pumped into the state’s economy.

“That includes Flagstaff and Phoenix because people fly into Phoenix and rent cars.”

Dahl said cuts to the parks could lead many international visitors to look for another place to visit.

“Those are tourists from Asia and Europe bringing tourist dollars to hotels, restaurants and buying gifts.”

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