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Grand Canyon to reopen despite shutdown
Arizona and the federal Interior Department agreed Friday to reopen Grand Canyon National Park for at least a week, with the state ponying up $651,000 to fund the National Park Service’s operations in the midst of the government shutdown.
Earlier in the day Colorado and Utah reached similar agreements to reopen parks in their states.
The service is working to combat bad press for its decision-making in the early days of the shutdown, which saw it deny entry to open-air memorials in Washington, and force private concessions on park land to close despite those businesses actually producing revenue, not taking money from the federal government.
“I’m gratified the Obama administration agreed to reverse its policy and allow Arizona to reopen Grand Canyon, Arizona’s most treasured landmark and a crucial driver of revenue to the state,” Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer said in a statement Friday.
Utah has agreed to pay the federal government $1.7 million to open up eight national parks during the government shutdown, and Colorado will pony up $362,700 to open Rocky Mountain National Park.
Under the agreement with Utah, the state will donate funds to the park service, which will use the money to reopen Arches, Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, and Zion National Parks, as well as Cedar Breaks National Monument, Natural Bridges National Monument and Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. Those parks will reopen Friday and the money will last for 10 days.
States had proposed this sort of arrangement early on, saying they’d done the same thing in the 1995-1996 shutdowns, but the Park Service had balked this year, telling states it didn’t have the legal ability to make those deals.
Late this week, the service reversed itself.
“This is a practical and temporary solution that will lessen the pain for some businesses and communities,” Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said in a statement.
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