Tags: national | parks | open | shutdown | utah

National Parks Open Despite Shutdown, Thanks to Utah Governor

Image: National Parks Open Despite Shutdown, Thanks to Utah Governor Zion National Park in Utah.

By Clyde Hughes   |   Friday, 11 Oct 2013 07:37 AM

After losing several million dollars in tourism due to the government shutdown, Utah Gov. Gary Herbert announced a deal that would open the state's national parks again.

Herbert announced late Thursday that the state will loan the federal government $1.7 million to open five national parks: Zion, Bryce, Arches, Canyonlands and Capitol Reef, and Natural Bridges, Glen Canyon and Cedar Breaks national monuments for 10 days, according to the Salt Lake Tribune.  

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The deal will allow the parks to reopen on Saturday.

"C’mon down to Southern Utah. We expect you’ll have a great time in Southern Utah and our parks are open," Herbert said during a signing ceremony late Thursday. "The people who make their livelihood off tourism and travel, this is a godsend for them. They’ve been decimated."

The Coalition of National Park Service Retirees reported that over the past 10 days, the closure of Zion National Park along threatened more than 2,401 jobs, including 2,136 local jobs not affiliated with the National Park Service.

Dean Cook, general manager of the Best Western Zion Park Inn, told the Desert News that it lost about 15 percent of its normal business in the first week of the shutdown, and could lose up to 33 percent this week. 

"We have lost significant dollars in these 10 days that unfortunately we'll never be able to recoup," Cook said. "October is a big month for us, usually one of the top three in a given year."

The Salt Lake Tribune reported that the shutdown hit Utah during its busy season for national parks. Tourism in October usually draws $100 million in revenue for the state.

The state's partnership with the federal government comes as parks in some southern Utah counties threatened to reopen using local law enforcement.

The Desert News reported that Arizona, Colorado and South Dakota have asked the Obama administration for similar deals as Utah's in a bid to make up for major profit losses.

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Related stories:

Americans Enter Closed National Parks in Civil Disobedience

House Panels to Meet on Uproar Over Park Closings

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