Arizona’s two U.S. senators and seven members of its U.S. House delegation asked the National Park Service to reimburse state and private dollars used to re-open the Grand Canyon during the partial shutdown of the federal government last month.
In a letter to National Park Service Director Jon Jarvis Wednesday, the members wrote that businesses in Tusayan on the south rim of the canyon lost an estimated $200,000 per day and about 2,200 employees inside the park were laid off.
The state of Arizona and private businesses leveraged $465,000 to keep the park open from Oct. 12-16. The shutdown lasted from Oct. 1-17.
The members pointed out that a similar arrangement was struck during the 1995 federal government shutdown, when the state provided $370,125 to keep Grand Canyon Village open for 21 days.
They also said that this time around, the National Park Service collected entrance fees as the park was opened using state funds and that Congress retroactively funded the Park Service for operations during the shutdown.
“In light of these two facts, it is difficult to reasonably conclude that Congress intended the Park Service to reap a ‘shutdown windfall’ at the states’ expense,” they wrote. “If we determine a legislative solution is necessary, we will work with our colleagues in the House and the Senate to settle this matter, as I am sure you would agree is appropriate, using offsets derived from the Park Service budget.”
The letter was signed by the state’s two Republican senators, Jeff Flake and John McCain, GOP Reps. Trent Franks, Paul Gosar, Matt Salmon, and David Schweikert, along with Democratic Reps. Ron Barber, Ann Kirkpatrick, and Kyrsten Sinema.