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Some states reopen national parks; others eye options

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 Friday 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 on Friday.

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 Friday will mean visitors should be able to return to Grand Canyon National Park today.

In Utah, federal workers rushed to reopen five national parks for 10 days after the state sent $1.67 million to the U.S. government with the hope of saving its lucrative tourist season.

Zion National Park superintendent Jock Whitworth said staff members expect 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.

In Colorado, officials said a deal had been struck for the state to pay $360,000 to reopen Rocky Mountain National Park for 10 days to allow tourists to reach Estes Park.

Just over 400 national parks, recreation areas and monuments — including such icons as the Grand Canyon and Yosemite — have been closed since Oct. 1 because of the partial government shutdown.

Officials at Zion National Park, near Springdale, Utah, expect to have the tourist destination fully operational today.

Associated Press

Officials at Zion National Park, near Springdale, Utah, expect to have the tourist destination fully operational today.

Some states reopen national parks; others eye options 10/11/13 [Last modified: Friday, October 11, 2013 11:27pm]
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