MARYLAND

Assateague Island faced with sequestration

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Nearly 2 million people visit Maryland's Assateague Island each year to check out its beautiful views, the wild horses, and all it has to offer. But now the island is dealing with the ugly side of sequestration.

Nearly 2 million people visit Maryland's Assateague Island each year to check out its beautiful views and wild horses. Photo: Jim Pennucci via Creative Commons

The steep spending cuts that went into effect this spring sliced nearly $250,000 from the park’s $5 million annual budget.

“Here, that impact is to our visitor entrance station, that first line of contact to our visitors. It’s to our water quality monitoring program,” says Justin Unger, acting park superintendent.

Park officials maintain the water is safe for recreational activity, but if the budget cuts continue in the next year there could be other cuts. The park has nearly 100 seasonal and full time workers, but there is now a hiring freeze and staff reductions could be in the future.

“That would be extremely bad. I think a park this size requires certain amounts of personnel and staff and they have good staff that have good information that will continue to bring people back,” says Laura Reachard of York County, Pa.

Park officials hope the budget issues will be resolved soon and the strip of land, which has survived plenty of hurricanes and storms, will survive the political climate.

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