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Originally published Thursday, February 14, 2013 at 10:01 AM

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Interior: Cuts will reduce hours at national parks

The Interior Department says automatic spending cuts set to take effect next month could lead to reduced hours and services at national parks, wildlife refuges and other public lands.

Associated Press

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WASHINGTON —

The Interior Department says automatic spending cuts set to take effect next month could lead to reduced hours and services at national parks, wildlife refuges and other public lands.

The department is preparing to reduce hours and services at all 398 national parks and possibly could close up to 128 wildlife refuges.

The cuts are outlined in a letter to the Senate Appropriations Committee that was obtained by The Associated Press.

The cuts also would affect payments to states and local governments. As much as $200 million in direct payments to states, mainly the West, could be eliminated. The cuts could force local governments to cut back on core operations ranging from police and fire protection to school and road maintenance if Congress can't make a deal by March 1.

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