Utah opening national parks; Montana says no


Zion National Park has been closed to tourists since Oct. 1.  (Trent Nelson/AP)

The gates of five national parks and three national monuments will be open to tourists starting Saturday after Utah officials stepped in to provide funding during the federal government shutdown.

Gov. Gary Herbert (R) signed a deal Thursday night to send $1.7 million to the U.S. Interior Department, enough to keep the sites — Zion, Bryce, Arches, Canyonlands and Capitol Reef national parks and Natural Bridges, Glen Canyon and Cedar Breaks national monuments — open for 10 days.

The parks are a major part of Utah’s $7 billion tourist economy. The Coalition of National Park Service Retirees on Thursday estimated that more than $3.4 million in visitor spending has been lost in the 10 days since the government shut down on Oct. 1. The shutdown has threatened about 2,400 jobs, including 2,100 not affiliated with the National Park Service.

Herbert also called the state legislature back into session next week to consider further funding if the federal government remains shut down. There’s no guarantee that the federal government will pay Utah back when the government reopens, but Herbert’s office said it was working with the state’s congressional delegation to make that happen.

South Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple (R), Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer (R) and Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) have made similar offers to use state funds to reopen national parks in their states.

But Montana Gov. Steve Bullock (D) said he won’t follow suit. Bullock told the Helena Independent Record that he wanted the full federal government reopened, not just the national parks.

Many lodges in and around Montana’s national parkland are already closed for the fall season. But in southern Utah, Columbus Day weekend is a major tourist draw.

Reid Wilson covers national politics and Congress for The Washington Post. He is the author of Read In, The Post’s morning tip sheet on politics.

politics

govbeat

Success! Check your inbox for details. You might also like:

Please enter a valid email address

See all newsletters

Comments
Show Comments
Most Read Politics

politics

govbeat

Success! Check your inbox for details.

See all newsletters

Next Story
Niraj Chokshi · October 11, 2013

To keep reading, please enter your email address.

You’ll also receive from The Washington Post:
  • A free 6-week digital subscription
  • Our daily newsletter in your inbox

Please enter a valid email address

I have read and agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

Please indicate agreement.

Thank you.

Check your inbox. We’ve sent an email explaining how to set up an account and activate your free digital subscription.