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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."

About the Author

Position: Senior News Reporter. Started with KTAR July 4, 1999.

Favorite spots in Arizona: Pinetop-Lakeside, Alpine, Greer.

Have covered some of the biggest stories in Arizona including nine of the top 10 largest wildfires in state history. The Wallow Fire in 2011 became the largest fire in state history. Rodeo-Chediski Fire in June 2002, which is the second largest fire in Arizona. Covered the Yarnell Hill Tragedy in June 2013 that left 19 Granite Mountain Hotshots dead.

Favorite movies: True Grit, both 1969 John Wayne classic and the remake with Jeff Bridges and Lonesome Dove.

Sports Teams: Washington State University Cougars, Texas Longhorns, The University of Montana Grizzlies.


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