Desperate states spent $2 million to re-open national parks, sustain their economies

Despite the government shutdown, Grand Canyon National Park reopened on October 12, 2013, costing the state of Arizona about $100,000 a day.

flickr, Grand Canyon NPS

Public lands are so economically important that seven states spent over $2 million out of their already strapped budgets to open federal lands during the last week of the 16-day government shutdown.

Due to huge economic losses, these states decided to foot the bill to operate parks and monuments within their boundaries:

  • Utah spent almost $1 million to open Zion, Arches, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef and Bryce Canyon National Parks as well as Natural Bridges, Glen Canyon and Cedar Breaks national monuments for six days
  • Arizona spent almost $500,000 to keep the Grand Canyon open for five days
  • Colorado spent about $200,000 to operate Rocky Mountain National Park for six days
  • South Dakota spent $45,600 to fund Mount Rushmore National Memorial for three days
  • New York paid $369,300 to reopen the Statue of Liberty for five days
  • Tennessee and North Carolina chipped in to pay $76,000 to open Great Smoky Mountains National Park for just one day

View a timeline of these events below:

While states will not have to pay for days after the shutdown ended, Congress will need to authorize any further reimbursement to these states. The budget deal signed by President Obama on Wednesday Oct. 16 did not include such reimbursement.

Thankfully, federal lands are now open again, so states can rely once more on the tourism dollars of the fall season to support their communities.

Before the shutdown, these places were facing serious cuts due to the sequester. But the shutdown proved how crucial these places are - to outdoor recreationists, park rangers and local wildlife.

As Congress works towards a new long-term budget solution, The Wilderness Society will be advocating for robust funding to wild places. Please join us in supporting America's natural treasures.