Check out the article at the link with this post to learn about the affects of budgetary shortfalls in our National Parks. The article, by Kathryn Herrup, quotes Phil Francis the Superintendent of the Blue Ridge Parkway and his concerns about staffing.
From the article:
The number of park law enforcement officials has been drastically slashed in an effort to deal with funding shortfalls. The 469 mile long Blue Ridge Parkway National Park in North Carolina and Virginia for instance has had to cut back 40 percent of its staff. It now has only about 35 law enforcement rangers to deal with 16 million visitors to its 300 miles of trails, and the reduced number of rangers has a direct affect on visitors. Phil Francis, superintendent of the park, says that one of his rangers recently had to decide whether to first respond to a potentially deadly car crash or to a person who was having a heart attack. "Imagine if you have to wait for a person to drive 40 or 50 miles to respond to a medical emergency."
I can attest from my experience that that Mr. Francis is not exaggerating in his depiction of response times for emergencies on the Blue Ridge Parkway. I know in several instances where rangers called for backup in potentially life threatening situations where assistance took more than an hour to arrive. I personally responded to emergencies from distances of more than 60 miles of mountainous roads because I was the only one working that day.
We simply do not have enough National Park Rangers working in the field to work safely, let alone accomplish the National Park Service mission of protecting the public and our nation's most valuable resources.