Utah has reached an agreement with the government this week and will reopen five national parks by Saturday.
Utah Governor Gary Herbert said that a deal had been reached with the U.S. Department of the Interior Secretary Sally Jewell in which Utah will pay for the National Park Service to reopen five parks and three other nationally-run locations–up to $166,572 per day–for ten days. Herbert says that the shutdown simply affected too many Utah residents who depend on tourist traffic to survive. Fall months are especially profitable, due to nice weather and the seasonal changes in foliage, and can bring in more than $100 million to the state.
“Utah’s national parks are the backbone of many rural economies and hard-working Utahns are paying a heavy price for this shutdown,” Herbert said in a statement. “I commend Secretary Jewell for being open to Utah’s solution, and the world should know Utah is open for business and visitors are welcome.”
Every national park–over 400 of them–has been closed since the shutdown went into effect at the beginning of the month. More than 20,000 national park service employees have been furloughed.
Under the deal, Arches, Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, and Zion national parks will reopen, as well as Natural Bridges and Cedar Breaks national monuments and Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. Leaders in Colorado, South Dakota, and Arizona have requested a similar deal, although they say they aren’t sure how long they can fund the parks themselves.
“It’s not ideal, but if there’s something we can do to help reopen it, Governor Brewer has been committed to trying to find that way,” said the Arizona governor’s spokesman, Andrew Wilder.
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