Feb. 27 -- The 148th Fighter Wing's 241 federal technicians in Duluth face days or weeks of unpaid furlough. A Two Harbors outdoor gear company that supplies tactical gear to the military doesn't know whether its next order will come in.
At Duluth International Airport, the air traffic control tower might be closed for the arrival or departure of the day's first and last regularly scheduled flights. The commercial pilots would have to turn on the runway lights themselves.
The Fond du Lac Reservation's Head Start program would have to cut back by 35 children.
As the Friday deadline for the automatic federal budget cut of $85 billion approaches, the News Tribune asked local government officials and agencies to project the real effects they expect and are planning for.
148th Fighter Wing, Minnesota National Guard
The 148th Fighter Wing of the Air National Guard employs 241 federal technicians, of which 216 are federal military technicians and 25 are civilian technicians, said Capt. Gina Keppeler of the 148th Fighter Wing.
All of those employees, who represent about 60 percent of the 148th Fighter Wing's full-time work force, would be affected by a furlough, Keppeler said.
Those employees include pilots, maintenance personnel, mission support personnel, and finance and accounting personnel.
The Minnesota National Guard said that sequestration could result in the furlough of 1,169 employees of the National Guard in Minnesota, about 54 percent of the National Guard's work force. Sequestration "has the potential to influence the readiness of our service members, equipment, facilities and training," said Capt. John Hobot, spokesman for the Minnesota National Guard.
The automatic cuts will hit the Defense Department hard, with government contracts among the first to feel the impact.
In St. Louis County, 17 contractors do about $18 million in business with the military, according to the pro-military spending group "For the Common Defense." Sequestration cuts could mean $1.6 million to $3.2 million in cuts this year in just St. Louis County.
Granite Gear, a Two Harbors outdoor gear company that supplies tactical gear to the military and employs 40 people, already is feeling an impact. It is one of four contractors in Lake County that supplies the military that could see cuts. The rescue, medical and tactical gear the company supplies the military makes up 40 percent to 50 percent of its business. It's used by special forces including SEALs, Rangers and Green Berets.
"We don't know when the next order will come, or if it will," said Jeff Knight, the company's CEO. "At the very least, we've lost months.
"We're kind of in a holding pattern," Knight said. "We got enough going on to keep people busy. But in another month, we won't."
The Interior Department has told Apostle Island National Lakeshore and other parks to plan for a 5 percent budget cut, said Julie Van Stappen, chief of planning for the National Park property. That could mean eliminating up to eight seasonal employees at Apostle Islands. If those cuts continue into the summer, it would mean reduced services for thousands of visitors, such as reductions in visitor center staff.
At Voyageurs National Park, the 5 percent cut would mean eliminating the entire seasonal staff, including six interpreters and four park rangers, said Tawnya Schoewe, spokeswoman for Voyageurs. "It would mean ... campsites aren't cleaned as often; no trail clearing; and reduced staff and hours at the visitors centers. It's going to mean some direct impacts (to park visitors) if this holds true," Schoewe said.
The 5 percent cut also would have a big effect on Isle Royale National Park. An analysis provided by Superintendent Phyllis Green shows the cuts would include closing ranger stations, reduction in campground maintenance, eliminating staff at campgrounds and fewer ranger-guided ferry boat trips. The cuts would require eliminating seasonal positions, a move that would cut law enforcement rangers, visitor interpretation programs and resource management in half.
Sequestration, set to kick in Friday, will cut $600 million from the Federal Aviation Administration's operations
According to the Associated Press, automatic federal budget cuts could shut down control towers at as many as seven Mississippi airports.
Duluth International Airport wants $3.2 million in bond funding from the Minnesota Legislature to keep two major projects on track.
Airports in hundreds of small and medium-sized towns in rural America would be disproportionately hit if the funds are cut.