SALT LAKE CITY — The Obama administration’s willingness to reopen national parks shuttered by the government shutdown came with a big caveat: States must foot the bill with money they likely won’t see again.
So far, Utah, Colorado, South Dakota, Arizona and New York have jumped at the deal. Governors in other states were trying to gauge yesterday what would be the bigger economic hit — paying to keep the parks operating or losing the tourist money that flows when the scenic attractions are open.
South Dakota and several corporate donors worked out a deal with the National Park Service to reopen Mount Rushmore beginning Monday. Gov. Dennis Daugaard said it will cost $15,200 a day to pay the federal government to run the landmark in the Black Hills.
He said he wired four days’ worth of the donations yesterday.
In New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the state will pay $61,600 a day to fully fund Park Service personnel and keep the Statue of Liberty open. Arizona officials said a deal reached yesterday will mean visitors should be able to return to Grand Canyon National Park today.
Zion National Park superintendent Jock Whitworth said staff members began opening gates and removing barriers and expected to have the park fully operational today.
“This is a practical and temporary solution that will lessen the pain for some businesses and communities in Utah during this shutdown,” Interior Department Secretary Sally Jewell said in a statement.
It was welcome news for beleaguered shop owners in the small town of Springdale adjacent to Zion. Hotels have been vacant and retail and rental shops have seen sales plummet during the shutdown.
“It’s going to be awesome,” said Jenna Milligan of Zion Outfitters, an outdoor gear rental shop. “A lot of businesses have suffered severely because of the government. I just hope it does stay open through autumn.”