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Battlefield might reduce programs, maintenance due to budget cuts

March 18, 2013|By DAVE McMILLION | davem@herald-mail.com
  • The visitor center at Antietam National Battlefield isn't expected to close due to federal budget cuts, but the park might have to cut back on other activities such as programs and maintenance.
By Joe Crocetta/Staff Photographer

SHARPSBURG — Officials at Antietam National Battlefield probably will cut back on park ranger-led tours, programs for school students, regular maintenance of monuments and historical buildings and mowing due to the federal budget cuts known as sequestration, the superintendent of the park said.

Also, park officials probably will not extend the hours of operation for the park’s visitor center during the summer this year, said Susan Trail.

The visitor’s center closing time is usually extended from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. during the summer months, Trail said.

Trail said she does not believe the visitor center will be closed due to the cuts.

Antietam National Battlefield officials are among other local authorities who have been assessing possible effects of sequestration. The Hagerstown Regional Airport and Washington County Commission on Aging officials are waiting to hear how the cuts could affect them.

National Parks in the National Capital Region, which includes Antietam National Battlefield, are being required to cut their budgets by 5 percent, said Jenny Anzelmo-Sarles, a spokeswoman for the National Park Service.

Trail said she expects a final federal cuts plan for Antietam National Battlefield to be ironed out within the next couple weeks.

“We’re honestly still working out the nuts and bolts of how this will affect us,” Trail said.

The park has a schedule for regular maintenance of historical buildings, metal tablets with inscriptions and about 100 monuments on its grounds, Trail said. The federal cuts means the park will not be able to keep up with that work as it usually does, Trail said.

Trail said she does not think that some of the changes at the battlefield will be obvious at first. But that could change if federal budget cuts becomes an ongoing issue, Trail said.

Trail said volunteers routinely do work at the park and that helps with the property’s maintenance needs. On Saturday, April 6, volunteers from throughout the state will team up with the Civil War Trust to do work at four Civil War sites in the state, including Antietam National Battlefield.

At the local battlefield, volunteers will be doing general clean-up, gardening and landscaping, according to a news release from the Civil War Trust.

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