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.

Comments

I wonder if the Great States of Tennessee and North Carolina will collaborate in a similar manner to reopen the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and other public lands in their regions?

Hmm. Wonder if this will add some momentum to the effort to turn Federal lands in Utah over to the state.

This is almost funny in a state in which there are many denizens who throw hissy fits if one of their noble neighbors is arrested and prosecuted for grave robbing at an ancient ruin. Or where in parts of the state, national park rangers stationed at some of the monuments local leaders now want to open are actively shunned in nearby towns and choose to drive many, many extra miles to shop.

Good questions. It is interesting to note that Utah is one of the states that receives more in federal tax dollars than its citizens pay. In my own view, I disagree with Secretary Jewel. Our national public land and parks are a commons. I do think they belong to all US citizens not just the local business communities or residents of any particular community or State. I do agree that the local concerns are of the utmost importance and that the Congress should be being paying attention to their interests, but not at the expense of the integrity of the national system. These areas represent the highest tradition of public land management both in their efforts to maintain their ecological, historic and cultural resources and the standards of public service. They are the model and envy of many of the nations of the world. The peice meal approach is unfair not only to all employees of the public lands, but to visitors from all over the US and the world for that matter. Just one more example of the unintended consequences of this poorly conceived partial government shutdown.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/crime/mclean-youth-lacrosse-beats-government-shutdown-in-court-langley-fork-park-reopens/2013/10/10/c79ad664-31d3-11e3-9c68-1cf643210300_allComments.html?ctab=all_&

It would be really interesting to know -- Is the NPS being overly zealous or are the instructions coming from above. Given this is to be the most transparent administration ever, that should be easy to find out.

McLean is home to a lot of wealthy people with political connections. Newt lives in McLean as does Terry McAuliffe(Clinton Democrat running for Va governor).


McLean is home to a lot of wealthy people with political connections.


So what?

Fairfax County runs that park, they accepted the decision of NPS to suspend the special use permit. The parents of the kids in McLean Lacrosse have access to resources that very few Americans do, that's why they were able to sue.


The parents of the kids in McLean Lacrosse have access to resources that very few Americans do, that's why they were able to sue.


Baloney

C'mon, EC, "water flows uphill to money."

And that's why Arches, Canyonlands, Bryce Canyon, Capitol Reef, Zion, the two monuments and NRA are opening tomorrow. Utah has $$$ resources that other states don't, or don't want to commit.

That said, it seems a $1.7 million investment, in money the federal government likely will reimburse, is a small price to pay to get the parks and their surrounding gateway towns up and running.

What will be interesting is what if the shutdown isn't resolved in the next 10 days? Will Utah pony up some more $$$??? What also will be interesting to see is whether those who canceled their vacation plans to these parks once will return during this ten-day window...

Again, what is forgotten here is the history. Indeed, to a historian of the national parks (and Western History) this deal is momentous. It proves again how critical the national will has always been to the prosperity of the western states. They can complain all they want about the public lands as "a taking," but in the end they need them--and as states would have destroyed them--because that is what a "frontier" does. Fortunately, a bigger player--the federal government--intervened and allowed these lands to be preserved. Yes, there are state parks throughout the West, but nothing like the national parks. Big parks--and thus a Big tourist economy--require the national will. As a historian, I take heart that Utah has rediscovered this truism, even as its politicians continue to bad-mouth the public lands. But then--this is also the "old" Utah resserting itself. Remember Reed Smoot--the "father" of the National Park Service as the Utah Senator who championed the enabling act? And don't forget the Union Pacific Railroad, which single-handedly developed Zion, Bryce, Cedar Breaks, and the North Rim of Grand Canyon. In this case, history may not have repeated itself, but it sure came pretty close. Thank you, Utah, whatever your motives. Now you know why the rest of the country visits your state--and insists that every western state protect the public lands. Enjoy the wealth they bring, but yes, they belong to all of us. The only negative here is that we learn these things the hard way. Now, let us hope Congress is learning, too.

I really enjoy posts written by Alfred Runte.

Thank you. I enjoy posting on (and writing) for The Traveler because Kurt and Co. value history. It is indeed my favorite website of the many I follow.

I smell the stench of envy.

From City-Data:

McLean,VA Median household income in 2011: $166,738

VA Median: $61,822

McLean median home value: $868,943

VA Median: $243,100

So, I'd say Sara was pretty spot on. And look! Facts to back up my assertion.

Sure, McLean has a higher average income and home value. But everyone in this country has access to the courts and there is no evidence that money played any role in the court's decision. Like I said, the stench of envy.

Envy of what, exactly? The fact that their kids can play lacrosse but mine can't? Our local parks are owned and run by the cities and counties, so we're all good.


Envy of what, exactly?


Envy of the higher median income and home value of the productive residents of McLean.

I live in a house that's paid off, have two vehicles that are paid off, and live in an upscale area. Do I live in an $800,000 house? No, but where I live, you can buy the same house for half the money. So, no monetary envy, either.

Do you believe that people with a lot of money and political influence can't, and don't, influence the courts?


Do you believe that people with a lot of money and political influence can't, and don't, influence the courts?


I certainly won't claim it never happens as I am sure there are corrupt judges somewhere. But I have seen no evidence that this judge was on the take. Do you have any?

REF: Mclean/Langley Fork Park, I read the article and my take is this is another example of the NPS overzealously trying to comply with the Antideficiency Act.

It appears to me that since the park is maintained and managed by the local park authority that a strong case can be made that leaving this park open does not "obligate expeditures" by the federal goverment therefore the NPS had plenty of room under the Antideficienty Act to leave it open.

Yes, the group from Fairfax county had the funds and wherewithal to fight the action and get it rectified. But to make this simply a class issue is over-reaching.

Another point of view would be that the action of the "rich" parents in this case sets a tone to get the NPS to evaluate other closures they enforced in the shutdown rush, and provides motivation for them to rectify potentially unnecessary closures that occured in less advantaged communities as well.

I don't. I equate this with a judge giving celebrity or sports figure a lighter sentence than the average Joe would have received for the same offence. In this case, the judge didn't receive any direct pressure from the plaintiffs, but was affected by the political and business power carried by the plaintiffs, IMHO.


In this case, the judge didn't receive any direct pressure from the plaintiffs, but was affected by the political and business power carried by the plaintiffs, IMHO.


And on what basis do you reach that opinion? Where was the ruling in error?

Lets see Mclean Youth Soccer .....

The Boys' Commissioner is an unemployed dad, the girls' is a high school coach and the legal representative is a DC divorce lawyer. Gee the lives of the rich and powerful must have had that judge quaking in his boots.

"Was the ruling in error?"

I suggest it is in the best interest of the NPS and the American people for us to answer that question first before dismisssing this as a class issue.

Ah, yes. The stench of envy.

Or is it the stench of the new American entitlement mentality?

The same kind of mentality that leads to cutting trees along a scenic easement by the Potomac River and then canning the ranger who tried to blow the whistle. Or the mentality that produces a mansion on a bluff in Zion where it is visible for miles. Or the mentality of people here in my own county who build multi-million vacation "cabins" on mountaintops and then complain their taxes are too high while demanding -- and receiving -- incredibly expensive snow removal paid for by the rest of us.

Methinks that stinks a lot more than any envy.

I've noticed countless times that the majority of complainers are those with the bucks while those doing the work simply keep plugging along and make do with what they have.

You're the perfect liberal Lee.... Your envy of those who have more because they worked more is unequaled...

You're the perfect example of entitlement Mike . . . your belief that those who have more actually worked harder for it somehow is completely without merit. Don't try to tell me that a police officer or nurse or teacher or sanitation worker or clerk at WalMart doesn't work hard for what they have. And those of us who don't have enough to hide it in offshore accounts can't even claim that advantage. Here I am, a retireee who paid a higher effective tax rate than one of our Presidential candidates last time around. Who is the entitled one?

People who actually know me chide me for being too "conservative." Hmm. Maybe I'm just one of those nut jobs who actually believes in some old fashioned honesty and fair play. Both of which now seem to be rapidly becoming endangered species. Perhaps honesty and fair play are becoming liberal values. If that is the case, then that's really frightening.

The stench of entitlement is becoming a lot stronger.


You're the perfect liberal Lee.... Your envy of those who have more because they worked more is unequaled...


This is such a ridiculous and hackneyed caricature of a liberal, I would have guessed that it was actually written by a liberal caricaturing a conservative. Let's talk about the parks, instead.

re: "Let's talk about the parks, instead."

A really good idea :-)


The same kind of mentality that leads to cutting trees along a scenic easement by the Potomac River and then canning the ranger who tried to blow the whistle.


Lee - I don't think you would find a soul here that thinks that was right


Or the mentality that produces a mansion on a bluff in Zion where it is visible for miles.


Or probably that.


Or the mentality of people here in my own county who build multi-million vacation "cabins" on mountaintops and then complain their taxes are too high while demanding -- and receiving -- incredibly expensive snow removal paid for by the rest of us.


But that is totally bogus. I live in such a community (Breckenridge) where people are building multi-million vacation "cabins". I have never heard any of them complain their taxes are too high. Furthermore the taxes for snow removal are miniscule. All street maintenance is 4% of our town's budget and our town's share of the property tax bill is 13%. So .52% (4% of 13%) of our taxes are paid for all street maintenance and snow removal would be a fraction of that. In contrast 38% of our property taxes go to the local schools and another 8% to the community college. But our second home owners (80% of the properties) don't have anyone going to these schools. Not only are they not getting any benefit for 46% of the taxes they pay, they don't even get to vote on how their money is spent. Who is it that is paying for services for others? Who is it that feels "entitled"?

Your perception of the world is so far from reality it is scary. Unfortunately, its all too common an afflication.

{edit} Actually, I over estimated the share of the maintenance budget to the total property tax bill as street maintenance is 4% of the total town budget and the town has revenue from many other sources - again primarily out of towners with lodging taxes, and real estate transfer taxes. So when you get down to hit, snow removal might be in the .1-.2% of all property tax. So much for your big subsidy Lee

Thirty years on Wall Street and then moving into real estate. And then defending the fat cats who buy and build McMansions.

Time to move along, folks. Nothing new here.

You make an excellent point Alfred Runte. I found your post very informative. I think the realization of how important the parks are even if it just from economic perspective, and that is very important to local residents and business, their employees, etc., is well taken. A question, I am still bothered by the piece meal approach. Is this an issue? I do think it is the responsibility of the US Congress to fund our National Parks (and all our governmental functions), that they have been unwilling to date to due that is tragic. In any case thanks again for the post. I would also like to thank Sara, I agree that money has influence, the more money the more influence. Weather that is good or bad I guess depends on where you sit in the income pecking order. It does lead to resentment however when it gives perks to neighborhoods that others do not have (along with many other advantages including access). EC, you might want to research how much it costs to file a lawsuit, even for a nonprofit. Here in California you are looking at 15,000 just to get all your filings in. . Litigation can last years, and normally, in my limited experience, its something you do only as a last resort.

The McLean Lacrosse Association got a temporary restraining order against the NPS from a federal judge who happens to live in McLean. Now, the Glen Echo Partnership in Maryland wants to be allowed to operate their portion of Glen Echo Park(also part of the GW Memorial Parkway unit) because of what happened at Claude Moore and Langley Fork. This could get chaotic.

http://www.bethesdanow.com/2013/10/11/glen-echo-partnership-urges-park-service-to-reopen-park/

Sara, interesting post. I agree, the unintended consequences of the partial government shutdown, in my opinion, are resulting in some "chaotic" results.

Heck, Ron, just the normal day-to-day insanity in Congress has produced years of "chaotic" results . . . . .