Will sequestration hurt Florida’s National Parks?

Barring a miracle, Friday will see the federal government go through something now being called “sequestration,” a series of across-the-board, indiscriminate cuts to federal programs.

Sequestration was never supposed to happen, though.  It was a time-bomb signed into law to force our government to come up with rational, meaningful reductions before March 1 – something that now seems unlikely to happen.

If nothing happens in the next 48 hours, these cuts will go into effect, and they could have a dramatic impact on national defense, education, housing aid – and, of note for the adventurers among us, our national parks.

Florida is fortunate to have three amazing national parks: Everglades, Dry Tortugas and Biscayne. Like other federal programs, our national parks are scrambling to figure out how they’ll continue normal operations despite significant budget cuts.

Everglades rainbow

Everglades National Park | Photo used under CC license by Flickr user Photomatt28

The New York Times reported Monday that some parks have already begun slashing services – closing roads to avoid paying for plows, closing trails, reducing visitor center hours and closing campgrounds.

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It’s a free-admission weekend at state and national parks!

In honor of Veteran’s Day, the Florida State Park system is waiving admission fees at all of it’s parks on Sunday (Nov. 11)!

The National Park System will be waiving it’s fees on Saturday and Sunday (Nov. 10, 11), and the U.S. Forest Service is waiving its fees for the entire three-day weekend (Nov. 10-12).


San Felasco Preserve State Park, near Gainesville

True, the fees at these parks typically aren’t substantial, but this is a great chance to get out and do some park hopping with the whole family.

So this weekend, instead of hiking the usual trails, explore somewhere new.  And if you see a veteran, say thanks.

(Before you head out, though, vote for “Walking with Wild Horses” at the Florida State Park Photo Contest)


La Chua Trail in Paynes Prairie State Park