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Spending cuts force Grand Teton to cut back on seasonal employees

JACKSON, Wyo. — Grand Teton National Park will reduce its seasonal workforce, including hiring fewer search and rescue team members, to help meet $700,000 in federal spending cuts, park officials said.

The park's plan also includes furloughs, closed visitor centers and campgrounds and no snowplowing on at least four park roads this spring, according to Grand Teton Superintendent Mary Gibson Scott.

"We're trying to minimize the impacts on visitor services these cuts will have," Gibson Scott said. "However, there's no way to take this reduction without reducing the amount of services we provide."

Hiring fewer seasonal employees will save $372,000, Deputy Superintendent Kevin Schneider tells the Jackson Hole News & Guide.

The park will hire 154 seasonal employees this year, down 26 from 2012. As recently as 2010, the park had hired 237 seasonal employees.

Gibson Scott said seasonal workers are typically assigned to visitor centers, road patrol, wildlife jam, search and rescue and custodial duties.

"We know that there will be delays in responding to search and rescue, as well as medical emergencies and (for) law enforcement," she said.

Grand Teton officials announced their budget plans almost three weeks after Yellowstone National Park announced how it will reach its $1.75 million budget reduction. Yellowstone, too, has reduced its seasonal workforce, saving $400,000.

Twenty-three percent of Yellowstone's budget reduction plan relied on cutting seasonal employees, compared with 53 percent for Grand Teton.

Gibson Scott said the Moose-Wilson, Antelope Flats, Signal Mountain and Death Canyon roads will not be plowed this spring. They will open as they melt out.

Visitor centers at the Laurance S. Rockefeller Preserve and Flagg Ranch will be closed for the season, and Jenny Lake Visitor Center will operate at reduced hours and with a shortened season, she said.