Interior secretary: Cuts hurting mission of national parks
Published: May 7, 2013 04:45PM
Updated: December 7, 2013 11:31PM
Sally Jewell, shown here testifying in March in the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing on her nomination. Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, was one of 11 who opposed her nomination. Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, was among 87 senators who voted in favor of Jewell's appointment. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)

Washington • Interior Secretary Sally Jewell told a Senate committee on Tuesday that the automatic spending cuts now hitting her budget are distracting the department from carrying out its mission.

“I know it’s not where you want us to go; it’s not where we want to go,” Jewell told the Senate Appropriations subcommittee.

“It’s very, very difficult,” Jewell continued. “It’s hard on employees who are hard working, to all the things that you care about as well. They’re really taking it on the chin. It’s just very, very difficult to carry out the mission the way it is affected.”

Automatic budget cuts of about 10 percent hit most federal agencies after Congress failed to pass a stopgap measure.

National park officials in Utah previously said that the cuts could be absorbed without visitors seeing much of an impact, although seasonal openings were delayed and visitor hours scaled down in many national parks and monuments in the region.