Bishop Praises Gov. Herbert and Secretary Jewell for Working Toward Reopening Parks
WASHINGTON—Congressman Rob Bishop (UT-01), Chairman of the House Public Lands and Environmental Regulation subcommittee today praised Utah Governor Gary R. Herbert and U.S. Department of Interior Secretary Sally Jewell for working on a compromise agreement to reopen national parks in Utah. Secretary Jewell has also joined with governors in three other states to strike similar agreements.
“I commend Governor Herbert and Secretary Jewell for setting politics aside to keep parks open. However, this wouldn’t be necessary if the Senate would pass the bill sent over by the House to fund national parks during the government shutdown. The pain passed on to park visitors and businesses is certainly an unintended consequence that has come as a result of Senator Reid’s unwillingness to work out a budget agreement with the House. The partnership between states and the Department of Interior illustrates that compromise is indeed possible and that if we work together, it is possible to find solution to the problems we face. This type of arrangement was made in Arizona during the 1995 shutdown. I am confident that similar terms to that agreement can be reached to ensure that states are compensated for supporting tourists and businesses while the Department of Interior is unable to,” said Bishop.
By Robert Gehrke
The Salt Lake Tribune
October 10, 2013
Interior Secretary Sally Jewell notified Utah Gov. Gary Herbert Thursday that the federal government would accept the state’s offer to lend money or resources to reopen Utah’s national parks, shut down as a result of the federal budget stalemate.
Jewell spoke with Herbert by phone Thursday morning, notifying him of the decision, said Herbert’s spokesman, Nate McDonald. A letter is also en route to the governor, according to The Associated Press.
Details of how and when the parks might reopen still has to be worked out, as well as the cost for restoring the shuttered operations.
It is possible that Herbert may have to call the Legislature into a special session next week to approve the loan to the federal government to reopen the parks.
It costs about $21 million a year to operate Utah’s five most prominent national parks, or about $60,000 a day.
The closures of Zion, Canyonlands, Arches, Bryce Canyon and Capitol Reef national parks had been a devastating blow to the tourist-dependent gateway communities around the tourist attractions. Zion National Park, for example, is the state’s third-most-visited tourist destination and a key piece of Utah’s $7.4 billion tourism economy.
Several Utah counties had passed emergency declarations as a result of the closure and there were discussions of the state unilaterally reopening the parks, forcing a potential showdown with the federal managers.
Governors of South Dakota, Arizona and Colorado have made requests similar to Utah’s.
The Tribune will update this story as more information becomes available.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.