Five States Pay to Open National Parks Despite Shutdown

Image via PASSPORT

Image via PASSPORT

Travelers who wanted to spend part of their fall in a National Park are mostly still out of luck thanks to the government shutdown, but a few states have stepped up to fund the re-opening of sites that provide critical tourism dollars to their economy.

Since the shutdown of the federal government began about three weeks ago, National Park staff has been off-duty as “non-essential” employees. The lost revenue for the National Park Service amounts to about $450,000 a day in visitor entrance fees and $76 million a day in additional visitor spending according to a report by the Coalition of National Park Service retirees as reported by the Washington Post.

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Now, a dozen parks (full list here) in five states are reopen with state budgets providing the necessary bridge funding to pay employees in the interim. Though states will likely seek reimbursement once a spending bill is passed and the shutdown is over, there is no guarantee that states will get their money back.

New York is paying $61,600 a day to open Liberty Island National Park, home to the Statue of Liberty as reported by ABC News. Arizona is ponying up $651,000–the cost of keeping the Grand Canyon open for a week. Utah is shelling out more money than any other state at $1.67 million to open five parks for ten days including Zion, Bryce, Arches, Canyonlands, and Capitol Reef according to govexec.com.

Other sites, like the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C. and Yosemite National Park in California, remain officially closed but have been popular places for activists to stage protests and voice criticism of the ongoing shutdown.

If you hoped to travel this fall to one of the sites that is now reopen–do it quick, because states have acknowledged that their budgets will not allow them to fund the work of the federal government for long.

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