Park tries to get by on what it can

CALUMET TOWNSHIP – Federal funding for the National Park Service has been cut in recent years, but the staff at the Keweenaw National Historical Park will continue to do the best job it can, according to Mike Pflaum.

Pflaum, KNHP superintendent, said stagnation of funding and the sequestration of budgets in Congress have made setting priorities for projects and programs at the park difficult.

“When we get a budget, we’re going to manage within that budget to accomplish the mission (of the park) the very best we can,” he said. “Clearly, some combination of the sequestration and a stagnant budget over the last several years has caused us to carefully reexamine every last thing we do, and every last thing we pay for.”

The difficulties with funding have caused the temporary suspension of the park’s contribution to the Heritage Grant program, and a likely reduction in the number of interpretation and education programs. The Calumet Visitor center will also be closed until May 23.

Despite those cuts, Pflaum said the park will still operate.

“We’re still able to do lots and lots of things,” he said. “However, we have reduced some of the margin.”

The new NPS budget will be released Oct. 1, but Pflaum said it’s uncertain what will be available to KNHP from it.

Pflaum said there was some good financial news, however.

“We got a National Park Foundation grant for approximately $14,000 for an education outreach program for at-risk school youth in our local area,” he said.

That program will start this spring, Pflaum said.

The Youth Conservation Corps program, which provides jobs around the part for high school students, has also been funded for this year, Pflaum said. Beginning June 10, six students will work for eight weeks.

In other business, board members:

heard from Pflaum he’s working with NPS officials to make KNHP an official visitor statistic park.

heard from Pflaum two master’s of business administration students will be developing a business plan for the park.

heard from Pflaum a new committee has been created to provide technical assistance for park partners.

heard from Advisory Commission Chairwoman Kim Hoagland there will be a public meeting on June 25 about the recently completed cultural resources survey for Baraga, Houghton, Keweenaw and Ontonagon counties.