Utah will hold special session to keep parks open

October 14, 2013
Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah (AFP PHOTO / GABRIEL BOUYSGABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Images)
Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah (AFP/Getty)

Utah legislators will meet Wednesday to appropriate new funds to keep the state’s national parks open, as the federal government shutdown has cost small cities and counties near those parks millions of dollars a day.

The state is already paying the U.S. Interior Department $1.7 million to keep five parks and three national monuments open for 10 days. But Gov. Gary Herbert (R) wants the legislature to allocate more money to keep the parks open, and to keep hundreds of state workers who are paid by federal funds from being furloughed.

Herbert also needs the legislature to confirm state Rep. Spencer Cox (R) as his next lieutenant governor. Herbert tapped Cox, a House freshman, to replace outgoing Lt. Gov. Greg Bell (R), who announced last month that he would be quitting  to look for a private- sector job.

Utah was the first state to convince the Interior Department to accept state cash to reopen its parks. Over the weekend, Colorado’s Rocky Mountain National Park, the Grand Canyon in Arizona and the Statue of Liberty in New York reopened with state funding, as our Washington Post colleagues Juliet Eilperin and Lenny Bernstein reported Friday. On Monday, South Dakota’s Mount Rushmore will reopen for business.

Each state is likely to seek reimbursements from the federal government when the shutdown ends.

Reid Wilson covers state politics and policy for the Washington Post's GovBeat blog. He's a former editor in chief of The Hotline, the premier tip sheet on campaigns and elections, and he's a complete political junkie.
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Reid Wilson | October 12, 2013