Some states agree to reopen nat'l parks
Oct 12, 2013 / 8:15 am
Arizona officials say tourists should be able to return to Grand Canyon National Park Saturday after the state along with several counterparts agreed to a federal government plan.
But the Obama administration's OK to reopen parks closed by the government shutdown came with a big caveat: States must foot the bill with money they likely won't see again.
So far, Utah, Colorado, South Dakota, Arizona and New York have agreed. Governors in other states were trying to gauge what would be the bigger economic hit — paying to keep the parks operating or losing the tourist money that flows when the scenic attractions are open.
South Dakota and several corporate donors worked out a deal with the National Park Service to reopen Mount Rushmore beginning Monday. Gov. Dennis Daugaard said it will cost $15,200 a day to pay the federal government to run the landmark in the Black Hills.
He said he wired four days' worth of the donations on Friday.
In New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the state will pay $61,600 a day to fully fund Park Service personnel and keep the Statue of Liberty open.
Arizona officials said a deal reached Friday will mean visitors should be able to return to Grand Canyon National Park on Saturday.
Arizona Republican Gov. Jan Brewer balked at spending about $112,000 a day for a full reopening of the Grand Canyon. She said a partial reopening would be much cheaper while allowing tourists to visit and businesses to benefit.
"The daily cost difference is enormous, especially without assurances that Arizona will be reimbursed," said Andrew Wilder, a spokesman for Brewer.
In the end, Arizona agreed to pay the Park Service $651,000 to keep the Grand Canyon open for seven days. The $93,000 a day is less than the $112,000 the federal government had said was needed to fund park operations each day.
In additional to state money, cash provided by the town of Tusayan, just outside the South Rim entrance, and private business would also be included in the funding.
At this time of year, the Grand Canyon draws about 18,000 people a day who pump an estimated $1 million a day into the local economy.
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