Smokies preparing for reduced services and hours

Smokies preparing for reduced services and hours

February 26th, 2013 by Associated Press in Local - Breaking News

A through hiker identified by the trail name of Kleenex travels April 29, 2012, along the Appalachian Trail near Mount Guyot in the Great Smoky Mountains. (Contributed Photo by Buzz Trexler)

Photo by Contributed Photo/Times Free Press.

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

In a prepared statement, National Park Service spokesman Jeffrey Olson in Washington, D.C. Olsen said visitors to all national parks should be prepared for reduced hours and fewer services.

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

Olsen said he could not comment on a leaked memo that indicated parks should prepare to cut back spending by 5 percent.

The cuts - called sequestration - would kick in if the president and Congress can't agree on a spending plan.

The Smokies is the most-visited of the nation's parks.