Does a state have the right to keep federal public land, within its borders, open to the public during a federal shutdown or downsizing? That seems to be the question among outdoor recreationists who live near or travel to federally "owned" public land in any given state.
In Tennessee, the biggest outdoor recreation mecca is the Great Smoky Mountains. In doing research for this article, I visited the U.S. Dept of the Interior website and this is the note placed on it: "Due to the lapse in appropriated funds, all public lands managed by the Interior Department (National Parks, National Wildlife Refuges, Bureau of Land Management facilities, etc.) will be closed. For more information, FAQs, and updates, please visit www.doi.gov/shutdown."
Now depending on how long this federal shutdown lasts, Tennessee and the local communities that surround the Great Smoky Mountains will lose a significant amount of revenue from this closure. Logic suggests that a state would do everything in their power to keep that land open for business either by using state resources or empowering the local communities and outdoor recreation organizations to step up to the plate. No one wants to see public land close, especially those who rely on the income or the people who need the "therapy" being active outdoors brings to the table.
But the question remains, do the states have the authority to keep these parks open? And if not, there seems to be a greater problem on the table. Why not?
The test case may come from Arizona, where the Grand Canyon features prominently in their revenue numbers. http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2013/10/04/ariz-gov-rejected-in-offer-to-reopen-grand-canyon/
Hopefully Tennessee will explore solutions as well. We need the Great Smoky Mountains open for business, we need the therapy.