Smokies preparing for reduced services and hours

Great Smoky Mountains National Park (Source: Kyle Grainger, WVLT)

Great Smoky Mountains National Park (Source: Kyle Grainger, WVLT)

GATLINBURG, Tenn. (WVLT) -- The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is bracing for automatic federal spending cuts, set to begin March 1.

A spokesperson for all national parks in Washington, DC said that how the cuts would take place have not been officially announced. He did say visitors should be prepared for reduced hours and fewer services.

NPS said cuts could include closing of campgrounds and hiking trails. Interpretive programs could also be curtailed.

Keith Hegedus visits the park several times a year. He and his wife believe the federal government should limit spending, but hopes it won't changed how much they enjoy their visits.

"We love Great Smoky Mountains National Park, This is a great time of year for us to come," said Hegedus. "The federal spending has got to get under control and unfortunately we all have to pay a little bit of the price of it."

University of Tennessee Economist Dr. Steve Morse says the cuts may not be as drastic for Sevier County as other areas. He told a group of the Sevierville Rotary Club that Sevier County has much to offer the visitors.

"Here we're very fortunate in the gateway cities we have a lot of attractions that appeal to people to come here But mostly it'll be in areas that have only a national park. Here we have other attractions that won't be impacted by that," said Morse.

He did say that it could hurt if people got bad information or thought the park was closed all together.

Federal cuts are set to go into place if the President and Congress can't agree on where to cut spending.

The park did not say if the cuts would impact the 260 employees who work at the park.


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