Utah Will Reopen Five National Parks Tomorrow

By:  Warren Mass
Utah Will Reopen Five National Parks Tomorrow

Under an agreement reached with the Department of the Interior, the state of Utah will reopen five of its national parks on Saturday morning.

“Come on down to southern Utah. The parks are open,” Governor Gary Herbert said after signing the agreement.

Among the parks and monuments to reopen, reported the Deseret News, are Arches, Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, and Zion National Parks, Cedar Breaks and Natural Bridges National Monuments, and the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. The latter area includes Lake Powell.

Herbert’s office released a statement on October 10 advising that a deal had been reached with the U.S. Department of the Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, reported CNN.

“Utah agrees to pay the National Park Service (NPS) up to $1.67 million — $166,572 per day — to re-open eight national sites in Utah for up to 10 days. If the federal government shutdown ends before then, the State will receive a refund of unused monies,” an official press statement explained.

The announcement did not explain why the state of Utah should pay the federal government to perform the Interior Department’s responsibilities, instead of vice versa.

Fair arrangement or not, reopening the parks will undoubtedly have a beneficial effect on Utah’s economy. “Utah’s national parks are the backbone of many rural economies, and hardworking Utahns are paying a heavy price for this shutdown,” Herbert said. “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.”

CNN notes that October is a more profitable than normal month for Utah’s national parks, since the good weather attracts a high volume of tourists. Officials estimate that a $100-million yield for the month is typical, so the parks’ closures would have had a strongly negative impact on the state’s economy.

A report from NBC News stated that the announcement of the deal came after the Obama administration said on October 10 that states would be given the option to spend their own money to reopen some of the parks shuttered during the partial government shutdown.

NBC News reported that other states, including South Dakota, Colorado, and Arizona, have considered this option.

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Photo of Delicate Arch at the Arches National Park near Moab, Utah

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