Utah Governor Gary Herbert announced on Thursday that the state has made a deal with Department of the Interior Secretary, Sally Jewell, to keep Utah national parks open with state money, according to CNN. Utah is one of the first to reach a deal like this after the government announced that it was open to considering these kinds of offers, as reported by AP.
“Utah agrees to pay the National Park Service (NPS) up to $1.67 million— $166,572 per day—to re-open eight national sites in Utah for up to 10 days. If the federal government shutdown ends before then, the State will receive a refund of unused monies” an official press statement explained. If the government remains on shutdown after 10 days, Governor Herbert insists that Utah can make more payments to keep their parks open.
The Department of the Interior is waiting on the money from Utah, at which point it will notify personnel to return to work. The deal would reopen Arches, Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, and Zion national parks. The other three locations that will be opened are Natural Bridges and Cedar Breaks national monuments, as well as Glen Canyon National Recreation Area.The process of opening the parks after receiving the money will take time, but in a statement from the governor’s office, the state anticipates all sites should be “fully operational by Saturday.”
The deal comes at a critical point in Utah’s tourist season. October is an especially busy month for the parks and the towns and businesses that surround them. The perfect fall weather and beautiful scenery attract an expected $100 million in tourism money, just for the month of October. A continuing shutdown would have been detrimental.
“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 the released 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.”
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