Governor signs deal to re-open national parks

- SALT LAKE CITY, (ABC 4 Utah) – Governor Gary R. Herbert signed an agreement Thursday night to re-open the State’s five national parks and three national sites starting Friday.

The Governor signed the agreement with Interior Secretary Sally Jewell and the National Park Service.

In the agreement, Utah will pay the NPS up to $1.67 million to re-open eight national sites for up to 10 days. The exact cost per day is $166,572.

The sites to re-open include Arches, Canyonlands, Bryce Canyon, Capitol Reef, and Zion National Parks, Cedar Break and Natural Bridges national monuments and the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area.

If the government shutdown continues beyond 10 days, Utah will make additional payments to keep the national parks and monuments open. If shutdown ends before then, Utah will receive a refund of unused monies.

Secretary Jewell cannot obligate the federal government to reimburse Utah, but the agreement stipulates repayment will be possible with approval from the U.S. Congress.

“Utah’s national parks are the backbone of many rural economies and hard-working Utahns are paying a heavy price for this shutdown,” Governor Herbert said. “I commend Secretary Jewell for being open to Utah’s solution, and the world should know Utah is open for business and visitors are welcome.”

Under the terms of the deal, the Interior Department will notify site-specific personnel to return to work as soon as the State of Utah wires the money.

Herbert expects the parks to begin re-opening Friday and become fully operational by Saturday.

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