Feds considering letting states operate national parks during shutdown

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ATLANTA, Oct. 11, 2013 — The federal government on Thursday said it will consider allowing state governments to fund national parks so they can operate during the federal government shutdown.

“Responding to the economic impacts that the park closures are having on many communities and local businesses, Secretary (Sally) Jewell will consider agreements with Governors who indicate an interest and ability to fully fund National Park Service personnel to re-open national parks in their states,” Blake Androff, a spokesman for the U.S. Department of the Interior said in a statement.

“The Interior Department will begin conversations about how to proceed as expeditiously as current limited resources allow,” Androff said. “We continue to call on Congress to act swiftly to enact appropriations for the entire government so that we can re-open all 401 national parks for the American people.”

Currently, more than 20,000 National Park Service employees are on furlough because of the shutdown. As a result, the government has shuttered parks, campgrounds and resorts that are located in national parks.

Because of the shutdown, the feds cancelled more than 15,000 reservations per day to Visit the Statue of Liberty.

In the wake of the shutdown, businesses in Tusayan, Ariz., and the town itself have offered to fund the operations of the Grand Canyon National Park. The federal government initially declined.

“Mr. President, our federal government is shut down because of a failure of leadership in Washington, and the citizens of states like Arizona are left bearing the burden,” Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer wrote in an Oct. 4 letter to President Obama.

“You have the opportunity to ease that burden by allowing major economic and historic attractions, like Grand Canyon National Park, to remain operational,” Brewer wrote. “We hope that you will reopen our National Parks or allow us to do it ourselves.”

The Republican-led House last week tried to fund national parks through the “Open Our Nation’s Parks and Museums Act.” While the measure failed, the bill would have provided funding for national parks, the Smithsonian Institution, the National Gallery of Art and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

 


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Todd DeFeo

Todd DeFeo jouned The Washington Times Communities in May 2012. He covers travel and Georgia. A marketing professional who never gave up his award-winning journalistic ways, DeFeo revels in the experience and the fact that every place has a story to tell. He also serves as editor of The Travel Trolley.

 

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