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Smokies visits down, budget cuts could impact services

4:27 PM, Feb 19, 2013   |    comments
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Visits to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park dropped slightly in January, down 1.4%.

That makes it the second lowest visitation rate for the month in five years.

Park officials say above average rainfall, flooding and the landslide on Newfound Gap Road likely contributed to the decline.

The park could take another hit next month, if the government's automatic budget cuts or "sequestration" take effect on March 1.

The National Park Service is warning Americans to be prepared for reduced hours and services at all national parks.

Officials cannot address how the Smokies and Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area will be specifically impacted, but visitors could see reduced hours for visitors centers, and possibly the closure of some camping, hiking and recreational areas, because of staff cut backs

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