Apostle Islands changing winter operations due to federal budget debates

By KBJR News 1

Credit: National Park Service

Apostle Islands

November 5, 2013 Updated Nov 5, 2013 at 11:38 AM CDT

Bayfield, WI (NNCNOW.com) --- Following the sequester and the recent government shutdown, park officials at the Apostle Islands will have to make changes during their winter operations to save money.

Officials say that since the park's operating budget is part of the overall federal budget through the National Park Service, it is subject to the much larger debate about America's fiscal problems.

Park officials say the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore budget in 2014 will be 13% less than it was in 2011 if Congress does not change the existing law.

Currently the NPS is under a continuing resolution until January, meaning there is still uncertainty as to what the full year park budget will look like. In both 2012 and 2013, the Apostle Islands saw a 5% reduction in their budget. If Congress does not act to change the existing sequestration law, the park would see another 3% reduction in its budget in January once a full year 2014 budget is enacted.

Due to these cuts, the National Park Service is looking into every dollar it can save during the fall and winter months.

For the Apostle Islands, the park's visitor center will not be open on a regular schedule this fall and winter. During office hours at the park's Bayfield Headquarters, people wanting information are encouraged to come to the 2nd floor offices to get brochures and have questions answered. Rangers will also still be available by phone during office hours.

To save money this winter, Meyers Road will not be plowed and motorized travel will be prohibited once the road is covered in snow. For those wanting to reach Meyers Beach, visitors can walk through the Lakeshore Trail.

At this point, it is unclear whether the ice caves will be accessible, between the uncertainty of winter weather and ice conditions as well as available funding.

Also, the Northern Great Lakes Visitor Center will be closed this winter on Sundays, federal holidays and the day after Thanksgiving.

Posted to the web by Krista Burns