WASHINGTON, D.C. – Utah’s U.S. Sens. Orrin Hatch and Mike Lee Tuesday co-sponsored the National Park Access Act, S. 2104, continuing their push for Utah to be reimbursed for providing state funds to reopen National Parks in the state during the 2013 government shutdown. The legislation introduced Tuesday by Sens. Jeff Flake, Mark Udall, and Lamar Alexander would direct the National Park Service to reimburse six states – Utah, Arizona, Colorado, New York, South Dakota, and Tennessee – that provided funds to temporarily reopen national parks during last year’s shutdown.
The bill comes in the wake of recent Department of the Interior testimony pledging support for state reimbursement legislation. Following the shutdown, Congress retroactively funded the National Park Service, which has since retained the $2 million state contribution as a shutdown windfall.
“During the shutdown, the state of Utah stepped up to plate to front the operating costs of keeping our state’s national parks – key economic drivers in our state – open for all to see, and our state’s taxpayers deserve to be repaid,” Hatch said. “The Department of the Interior has said they will pay back Utah and the other five states who fronted these operating costs, they just need Congress to approve it. This bill gives that approval so Utah can be repaid in full.”
“Now that administration officials have publicly indicated their support, I look forward to passage of this bill so Washington can finally reimburse states what they are owed for keeping the parks open,” Lee said.
The eight units of the National Park System in the state that were reopened during the 2013 shutdown were: The Mighty Five – Arches National Park, Bryce Canyon National Park, Canyonlands National Park, Capitol Reef National Park, and Zion National Park; as well as Cedar Breaks National Monument, Natural Bridges National Monument, and Glen Canyon National Recreation Area – Lake Powell.
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