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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