You are here

Utah Reaches $1.7 Million Deal To Open Five National Parks In State


Five national parks in Utah, plus one national recreation area and two national monuments, will reopen, temporarily, under a deal the state reached with Interior Secretary Sally Jewell.

Under the agreement, the state will provide $1.67 million so Arches, Bryce Canyon, Capitol Reef, Canyonlands, and Zion national parks, along with Cedar Breaks and Natural Bridges national monuments, and the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area can open for up to ten days.

“Utah’s national parks are the backbone of many rural economies and hard-working Utahns are paying a heavy price for this shutdown,” Governor Gary Herbert said in announcing the agreement. “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.”

Under the terms of the deal, the Interior Department will notify site-specific personnel to return to work as soon as the state wires the money. Secretary Jewell indicated to the governor that within 24 hours of receiving wired funds, the national sites could be open and fully operational. At the time of this release, Utah expects parks to become fully operational by Saturday.

Utah’s initial funding for the agreement will come from existing resources within the Division of State Parks of the Department of Natural Resources. Further action may be warranted by the Utah State Legislature in a special session expected for next Wednesday, October 16. The Governor’s Office continues to work closely with legislative leaders to make DNR whole and identify optimal solutions. If the government shutdown continues beyond 10 days, Utah can make additional payments to keep the national parks and monuments open, a release from the governor's office said.

While Secretary Jewell made it clear to the governor that she cannot obligate the federal government for reimbursement to the State, the agreement stipulates repayment will be possible with approval from the U.S. Congress. Consequently, the governor has engaged Utah’s congressional delegation to actively pursue timely repayment to state coffers.

Elsewhere in the country, officials in Wyoming, California, and Washington state said they would not try to fund the reopening of national parks in their states.


I wonder if the Great States of Tennessee and North Carolina will collaborate in a similar manner to reopen the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and other public lands in their regions?

Hmm. Wonder if this will add some momentum to the effort to turn Federal lands in Utah over to the state.

This is almost funny in a state in which there are many denizens who throw hissy fits if one of their noble neighbors is arrested and prosecuted for grave robbing at an ancient ruin. Or where in parts of the state, national park rangers stationed at some of the monuments local leaders now want to open are actively shunned in nearby towns and choose to drive many, many extra miles to shop.

Good questions. It is interesting to note that Utah is one of the states that receives more in federal tax dollars than its citizens pay. In my own view, I disagree with Secretary Jewel. Our national public land and parks are a commons. I do think they belong to all US citizens not just the local business communities or residents of any particular community or State. I do agree that the local concerns are of the utmost importance and that the Congress should be being paying attention to their interests, but not at the expense of the integrity of the national system. These areas represent the highest tradition of public land management both in their efforts to maintain their ecological, historic and cultural resources and the standards of public service. They are the model and envy of many of the nations of the world. The peice meal approach is unfair not only to all employees of the public lands, but to visitors from all over the US and the world for that matter. Just one more example of the unintended consequences of this poorly conceived partial government shutdown.

It would be really interesting to know -- Is the NPS being overly zealous or are the instructions coming from above. Given this is to be the most transparent administration ever, that should be easy to find out.

McLean is home to a lot of wealthy people with political connections. Newt lives in McLean as does Terry McAuliffe(Clinton Democrat running for Va governor).

McLean is home to a lot of wealthy people with political connections.

So what?

Fairfax County runs that park, they accepted the decision of NPS to suspend the special use permit. The parents of the kids in McLean Lacrosse have access to resources that very few Americans do, that's why they were able to sue.

Add comment


This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.

National Parks Traveler's Essential Park Guide