SPRINGDALE – Last Saturday it was Occupy Zion. This Saturday it was Zion occupied thanks to Utah Gov. Gary Herbert.
Governor Herbert struck a deal with the federal government that would allow Utah state funds be used to open the national park and monuments in Utah. Friday afternoon the gates began to swing open to park visitors.
“This is a completely different world,” Public Information Officer Aly Baltrus said, comparing this Saturday to last Saturday’s Occupy Zion, when a small group of protesters ignored the closed gate and entered the park. “It is so nice to be open and let people in.”
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Videocast by John Teas, St. George News
Everything is back to normal. The visitor’s center, museum and campgrounds are open. The south campground opened on Friday afternoon and Watchman campground opened on Saturday afternoon. With the camping reservations being a national system, a work-around had to be found before Watchman campground could be ready for campers. The Zion-Mt. Carmel Highway is also open to all traffic.
“I think that governor deserves incredible kudos,” Sharon Fortune, of Stowe, Vt., said. “And I think every person; every staffer that works for him deserves kudos for figuring out a way to make this work for the people that come here. And also for the people that work here and their livelihood depends on it. It’s a perfect time and it’s your high tourism season and good for him.”
“We were in Bryce yesterday but it didn’t open until afternoon but unfortunately we were there in the morning,” said Norman Spicher from Pennsylvania. “If the fine governor here in Utah hadn’t got this open (Zion), I don’t know what we would have done today.”
Last week there were people from around the globe that were disappointed. This week that was not the case. Terry and Roseanne Bellner from Monroe, Mich., have been planning a 12-day tour of the western United States for over a year.
“As a Vietnam Vet, this would probably be my only chance to see these sights,” Terry Bellner said. “We are staying at the lodge and after going through the museum we will head north to the lodge for lunch.”
Tara Dunn, who is running for a seat on the St. George City Council, and State Sen. Steve Urquhart, came out to Zion to go for a walk. Urquhart had originally planned to walk into a closed park as a sign of civil disobedience and protest against the shutdown. Instead, he and those invited to join in the protest-turned-pleasant-stroll entered an opened and state-funded park.
“It’s good to have the Park opened,” Urquhart said. “The sad thing is that it didn’t need to be closed. The feds easily could have struck an agreement to keep it open on Day One. But first it had to score cheap political points.”
“I am happy to be here to celebrate the re-opening of Zion, and afterwards to go grab a bite at a café and support the local economy,” Dunn said. “Zion being open certainly is in the best interest of the Springdale community, and even has a positive effect on our community. Kudos to the state of Utah for negotiate its reopening.”
Funds have only been appropriated through Oct. 20. The campground may close again due to possible lapse in funding, though Herbert has said the state may continue to fund the parks and monuments on a day-by-day basis.
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- Parks are Open; Take advantage while you can with this one-day Zion-Bryce tour guide
- Bryce Canyon opens gates to honks and cheers; STGnews Videocast and Photo Gallery
- Utah’s national parks reopen
- Shutdown: National parks, monuments slated to reopen Saturday
- Shutdown: Feds to allow states to open parks
- Shutdown: Southern Utah continues assessing options for national parks; Herbert wants negotiation
- Perspective: Shutdown; Who is willing to pay the price?
- Letter to the Editor: Shutdown; can’t have your cake, eat it too – demanding parks stay open when closure hits home
- Shutdown: ‘Paralysis in Washington’ causes counties to ask governor for aid
- Perspectives: To make our live as difficult as they can
- Shutdown: ‘Occupy Zion’ protesters defy national park gates
- Shutdown: Visitors ignore closure order, Grand Canyon National Park reacts with closure of Highway 64
- Shutdown impacts Springdale, Washington County tourism
- Bryce Canyon businesses say ‘it’s hurting bad;’ impact of government shutdown, alternatives for tourists – Includes alternatives for tourists
- Shutdown: Zion National park closes, what else is affected? – Includes alternatives for tourists
- Utah congressmen speak to government shutdown
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