Shutdown: Gov. Herbert asks Obama to reopen Utah national parks

SALT LAKE CITY – Gov. Gary R. Herbert formally requested President Barack Obama reopen Utah’s five national parks, several national monuments, historic sites and recreation areas.

In his letter today to Obama, Herbert said the shutdown of Utah’s national parks, monuments and other federal facilities is “devastating individuals and businesses that rely on these areas for their livelihood.”

If the President won’t free up federal funds to maintain and operate Utah’s national parks and monuments, Herbert asked him to authorize Utah to use state and private funds to re-open them to the public.

“It is within the power and authority of the Executive Branch to allow the national parks and monuments to be reopened. We have a solution in place,” Herbert wrote in the letter to the president. “We just need, literally, the keys to the gates. I cannot overstate that time is of the essence,

In addition, the Governor included emergency declarations from several Utah counties that highlight the dire economic situation as result of the shutdown.

Monday, county commissioners from across Southern Utah met in St. George at the Washington County Administrative Building to discuss the negative impact the shutdown of the national parks and associated areas was having on their respective counties. These counties included Washington, Iron, Kane, Garfield, Paiute, Garfield, Grand and San Juan counties, each of which have parts of the state’s five national parks or highly trafficked national monuments within their borders.

Washington, Iron, Kane and Garfield counties were among the counties that filed resolutions issuing a local state of emergency due to the economic impact the partial government shutdown is having on their counties and the people who depend on tourism for their income.

October is a peak month for tourism in many parts of Utah. The economic impact of the federal government shutdown on the state is approximately $100 million.

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer sent a similar letter to the president asking that the state be allowed to reopen the Grand Canyon with the use of state and private funds. (Arizona counties of Coconino and Mohave also participated in person or over the phone in the meeting of county commissioners in St. George on Monday.)  The Arizona governor’s request was ultimately denied by federal officials. 

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Twitter: @MoriKessler

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2013, all rights reserved.


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  • Bree October 8, 2013 at 3:38 pm

    You want the parks open? But, you want to protest the Presidents policies. This is what happens when you hate.

  • Char October 8, 2013 at 3:47 pm

    Ain’t gonna happen…..
    “…The Washington Times quoted an unnamed Park Service official who said park law enforcement personnel were instructed to “make life as difficult for people as we can. It’s disgusting.”
    Oh and get this, the Veterans were barriades from the National Mall and had to force themselves in, but there is a rally today at the very same mall for immigration reform. They are being LET IN to have their rally while Americans citizens are turned away.

    • Bud October 8, 2013 at 5:13 pm

      Your quote is questionable, probably a plant or some misguided Limbaugh listener, many in federal government drink from the kool-aid. Don’t believe every thing you read especially from Fox News. You wish to cry because of the elected Tea Party fools elected in this state, well you reap what you sew. Maybe next time you will elect some reasonable representatives that won’t destroy the greatest country in the world, but maybe that is the goal.

    • Ken October 8, 2013 at 7:47 pm

      I find this story complete and utter bs! We have a singular paper in MA supposedly reporting on an incident in MT, yet when you goggle this “story” there is no other coverage of it! The Washington Times is a very conservative newspapers and has had numerous “errors” reporting on Obama things. Can’t comment one way or another about the National Mall rally but would be very pissed if the government allowed it!

  • Lisa October 8, 2013 at 3:49 pm

    Governor Herbert should be talking to Senator Mike Lee not making requests of President Obama. Senator Lee’s not doing what’s best for the state of Utah, nor is he doing what’s best for the country’s citizens whose health care situation has gone too long with too little effort by those who’ve talked about shutting down the govt for years and now have done so.

  • Jo October 8, 2013 at 3:50 pm

    Maybe Gov Hebert should ask his own Congressional delegation to do this by voting!

    • Tracie October 8, 2013 at 5:39 pm

      My thought exactly. Problem solved.

  • Giuseppe October 8, 2013 at 4:02 pm

    I think the nation would be better served if he instead sent a letter to House Speaker John Boehner and ask that he put a clean CR vote on the floor. If the clean CR passes the parks re-open, if it fails (as Boehner claims) then they can clearly put the blame on the Democrats. The GOP wont have to reach across any party lines to re-open the national Parks, just put it on the floor to vote.

  • Bender October 8, 2013 at 4:27 pm

    Hey Governor, the shutdown is supposed to be painful. That’s why the tea party nuts pulling your strings made it happen. Pipe down and take your medicine.

  • Dixielambs October 8, 2013 at 5:35 pm

    Please don’t let Obama know how bad he is hurting U. It makes him smirk. He may even o****m. We passed by Hoover Dam Monday and the Pedestrian walk on the Hoover Dam by-pass bridge (in Harry Reid’s State) they were both open and filled with tourists… What a country….

    • Ken October 8, 2013 at 7:37 pm

      OMG @Dixielambs did you know that the shutdown didn’t close federal highways or any bridges over those highways. With an amazing two mouse clicks I found:::Hoover Dam Visitors services remain open to the public during the current government shutdown because the facility is not operated by appropriated dollars.

      I’m sorry that reality is cold when your only goal is to Obama bash! You only contribute to the problems when spreading false information!

  • emceetee October 8, 2013 at 7:49 pm

    To quote the late, great Ronald Reagan, “The problem with our liberal friends is not that they’re ignorant, it’s that they know so much that isn’t so.”

    The National Parks are under direct control of the President. They are part of the Department of the Interior, which is directly under control of the executive branch. Their head is appointed as part of the president’s cabinet. The only reason they are shut is they were ordered shut by the president, as they make money for their own funding, indeed profit for the government. This is Obama’s baby and Obama’s baby alone and only he can reopen them at his order. Congress merely approves their funding. They cannot and do not have the power to open or close the parks. The reason the parks were not closed in previous shutdowns was that the presidents at the time did not order them so.

    • Karen October 8, 2013 at 9:19 pm

      Your information is incorrect. The National Parks fall under non-essential branches during any government shutdown. Maybe you don’t remember the news coverage on all the tv channels and newspapers about the last shutdown in 1995. We had to cancel a trip to Arches National Park that we had planned during Christmas break of that year. And we continued to watch news reports of the roads to the National Parks being barricaded. The protocols and procedures are just dusted off whenever a government shutdown looms. President Obama did not order the parks to be shut down. And, I might add, the Republicans were blamed for the last shutdown as they will be blamed for this one.

    • Bender October 8, 2013 at 9:20 pm

      Don’t toss a hissy fit emceetee. Get on the horn and tell your Utah congressional delegation to support a straight up and down vote on a continuing budget resolution in the House. It’ll pass and the NPS employees can head back to work.
      Not sure where you are getting your information but the federal shutdown in the mid-90’s shuttered the National Parks. Additionally, I don’t believe NPS has ever been a revenue generator. Please share your source of information on this.

    • philiplo October 8, 2013 at 9:43 pm

      Sources, please, for your claim that national parks are revenue generators that turn a profit.
      This quick summary of park funding (admittedly not an official source) tells a different story — according to them, parks take in about $1 billion annually but government spending on them runs to multiple billions.

  • truthseeker October 9, 2013 at 3:06 am

    Bree sounds like an authoritarian loving, non constitutional believing, anti-liberty sucking, puppet propping, AmeriKan…. Did you ever look at that info I sent to broaden your horizons?

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