Grand Canyon National Park reopened Saturday after Governor Jan Brewer negotiated an agreement with the U.S. Department of Interior. $651,000 of state and local funds will fully support the national park amid the ongoing federal government shutdown.
Due to the lack of appropriations from Congress, the Department of the Interior was forced to close all national parks across the country last week and furlough more than 20,000 National Park Service employees who ensure the safety of visitors and the security of the resources.
Reopening the park has been a core focus of Governor Brewer since initial threats of the shutdown weeks ago.
Responding to the economic impacts that the park closures are having on many communities and local businesses, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell announced last Thursday that she would consider agreements with Governors who indicate interest and ability to fully fund National Park Service personnel to re-open national parks in their states.
“This is a practical and temporary solution that will lessen the pain for some businesses and communities in Arizona during this shutdown,” said Secretary Jewell.
“I’m gratified the Obama administration agreed to reverse its policy and allow Arizona to reopen Grand Canyon, Arizona’s most treasured landmark and a crucial driver of revenue to the state,” said Governor Brewer.
“… I am thrilled Grand Canyon will be open and fully operational – not only for our national and global travelers who have long awaited to experience one of the world’s Seven Natural Wonders, but for the nearby businesses and communities whose livelihood depends on the tourism it attracts. I must especially acknowledge Tusayan Mayor Greg Bryan, who has pledged private and town dollars to see this park reopened. I also thank the Arizona Office of Tourism, Arizona Department of Administration, the Arizona State Treasurer and private businesses for their leadership and contributions to this important effort.
“While this deal will buy us some time and bring back lost revenue to the state, I would hope our elected officials in Washington move urgently to negotiate an immediate end to this government standstill. Arizona is doing what it can to keep the Grand Canyon up and running, but we cannot pay the federal government’s tab for long,” urged the Governor.
Under the agreement negotiated by Governor Brewer, the state will pay the National Park Service $651,000 -- $93,000 per Day -- to reopen Grand Canyon and fully fund park operations for up to at least seven days using state and other monies. The State of Arizona urged its congressional delegation to secure reimbursement of all state dollars used to reopen Grand Canyon. The state officials said that they will continue to assess next steps if the federal shutdown has not ended in those seven days.
Find this article interesting? Click on +Subscribe above and future Grand Canyon articles will be sent directly to your inbox. Stacey Wittig is a freelance travel writer. Learn more at www.vagabondinglulu.com