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States react to Obama offer to pay to reopen parks

Posted: October 11, 2013 4:27 p.m.
Updated: October 11, 2013 4:27 p.m.

Ten days after the partial shutdown of the federal government shuttered the Statue of Liberty, Grand Canyon and other national parks, the Obama administration has offered to let states foot the bill to reopen parks within their borders. Here's how states are reacting to the offer:


State officials were negotiating with federal officials over the possible reopening of the Grand Canyon. Gov. Jan Brewer is pressing for a partial, less expensive reopening. Interior Department officials said that is not an option.


Gov. Jerry Brown's administration has no plans to spend state money to reopen any of the national parks in California. H.D. Palmer, spokesman for the governor's finance department, said the state's budget was balanced narrowly this year, with a small reserve, and there's no guarantee the state would be reimbursed. It also does not want to be in the position of deciding which national parks would reopen and which would remain closed.


Colorado agreed to pay about $360,000 to reopen Rocky Mountain National Park through Oct. 20 to boost its main gateway town, Estes Park, which was hit hard by flooding last month.


Gov. Rick Scott's administration said they had no plans to use reopen Everglades National Park and other national parks located in the Sunshine State. Scott spokesman Frank Collins said, "Florida taxpayers will not foot the bill to cover Washington's failure to negotiate and compromise."


Gov. Neil Abercrombie's office said the state is unlikely to reopen national parks because it doesn't appear it would be reimbursed.


Gov. Steve Beshear's office said the state did not yet have enough information to determine if it was feasible to reopen Kentucky's parks, including Mammoth Cave National Park and Cumberland Gap National Historical Park.


Gov. Jay Nixon's administration was working on a proposal that could allow national parks to reopen in Missouri. Nixon said Friday the proposal would specifically include plans to reopen the Gateway Arch grounds in St. Louis and the Ozark National Scenic Riverways Park in southern Missouri.


Gov. Steve Bullock said his state won't pick up the tab to reopen Glacier National Park. Bullock said that it's long past time for Congress to end the "reckless and job-killing shutdown."


Gov. Brian Sandoval said his state can't afford the costs of reopening parks when it is already facing critical funding decisions on food stamps, unemployment insurance and aid to women, infants and children.


Negotiations were underway on the possible reopening of the Statue of Liberty but no deal had been reached, according to an official who spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn't authorized to speak publicly.


Gov. Dennis Daugaard said Mount Rushmore will reopen Monday morning after the state and several corporate donors worked out a deal. Daugaard said it will cost $15,200 a day to pay the federal government to run the landmark carving of four presidents in the Black Hills.


Gov. Bill Haslam has been discussing reopening parks with the state's congressional delegation, but the issue is complicated by the fact that four of the large national parks straddle state lines, including the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.


Utah was the first state to jump at the federal government's offer, with Gov. Gary Herbert signing a deal for a 10-day reopening of the state's five national parks. State officials wired $1.67 million to the federal government, and National Park Service workers began removing barriers and opening gates.


Gov. Jay Inslee's office said the state does not have the money to reopen its popular parks, including Mount Rainier National Park and Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument.


Gov. Matt Mead's office said the state would not pay to reopen two heavily visited national parks or the Devils Tower National Monument. Mead spokesman Renny MacKay said, "Wyoming cannot bail out the federal government."


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