Utah Reaches $1.7 Million Deal To Open Five National Parks In State
Five national parks in Utah, plus one national recreation area and two national monuments, will reopen, temporarily, under a deal the state reached with Interior Secretary Sally Jewell.
Under the agreement, the state will provide $1.67 million so Arches, Bryce Canyon, Capitol Reef, Canyonlands, and Zion national parks, along with Cedar Breaks and Natural Bridges national monuments, and the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area can open for up to ten days.
“Utah’s national parks are the backbone of many rural economies and hard-working Utahns are paying a heavy price for this shutdown,” Governor Gary Herbert said in announcing the agreement. “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.”
Under the terms of the deal, the Interior Department will notify site-specific personnel to return to work as soon as the state wires the money. Secretary Jewell indicated to the governor that within 24 hours of receiving wired funds, the national sites could be open and fully operational. At the time of this release, Utah expects parks to become fully operational by Saturday.
Utah’s initial funding for the agreement will come from existing resources within the Division of State Parks of the Department of Natural Resources. Further action may be warranted by the Utah State Legislature in a special session expected for next Wednesday, October 16. The Governor’s Office continues to work closely with legislative leaders to make DNR whole and identify optimal solutions. If the government shutdown continues beyond 10 days, Utah can make additional payments to keep the national parks and monuments open, a release from the governor's office said.
While Secretary Jewell made it clear to the governor that she cannot obligate the federal government for reimbursement to the State, the agreement stipulates repayment will be possible with approval from the U.S. Congress. Consequently, the governor has engaged Utah’s congressional delegation to actively pursue timely repayment to state coffers.
Elsewhere in the country, officials in Wyoming, California, and Washington state said they would not try to fund the reopening of national parks in their states.