The Federal sequester isn't just shutting down parts of Washington, D.C. It's also forcing Wind Cave National Park in the Black Hills to make some changes.
The closing of Wind Cave's only campground has at least one Senator from South Dakota wondering whether it's a political statement, rather than a financial necessity. Regardless of why it's happening, no one at Wind Cave is happy about it.
Every year, Wind Cave National Park draws more than a half-million visitors. But that could be changing due to a five-percent budget cut the park is taking because of failed sequester talks in Washington.
"Because of that, we're reducing travel, reducing supplies and material. Reducing quite a few things, but eventually it's going to come down to where it's going to affect visitor services, and one of the first things we did was to shut down the Elk Mountain Campground," Wind Cave National Park spokesperson Tom Farrell said.
There's no fee to enter Wind Cave National Park, and that has some people questioning the motive for closing down its campground, which is one of its main sources of revenue.
"Obviously people pay to use the campground so why would you cut the things that people pay for? Why not cut the things that don't have fees tied to it?" Wind Cave visitor Jacin Theis said.
In 2011, 6,600 campers stayed in the Elk Mountain Campground, bringing in about $25,000 in revenue. But park officials say it actually cost $47,000 to maintain the campground and run its programs, so the closure will save nearly half that.
"Not only is the campground closing, but we're going to be offering less ranger-guided tours this summer. So people visiting Wind Cave National Park are going to see a reduction in visitor services," Farrell said.
That's not what the park's guests want to hear.
"My fear is are they going to start cutting some of the programs, some of the interactive stuff for the visitors. If they just roll back the administrative things and maintained the park, how much access are going to have as the public?" Theis said.
Tuesday afternoon, Governor Daugaard sent a letter to the National Parks Director offering the state's help in keeping the Elk Mountain Campground open. There's no word yet on whether that offer will be accepted.