Funding from the State of Utah to keep three National Parks open during the current federal government shutdown is set to end on New Year’s Eve.
According to a report by FOX 13 Thursday morning, the Utah State Treasurer David Damschen stated that the state is spending around $10,000 a day to keep custodial services and visitor centers open for Zion, Bryce Canyon and Arches National Park.
Damschen stated, “There’s an agreement struck that’s supposed to fund these minimal services through the end of the year. Beyond that, I do not know. Let’s hope for a quick resolution.”
With the ending of state funding closing in, the state’s Office of Tourism stated it plans on evaluating the benefit and cost of continuing the funding to the national parks if the shutdown continues into 2019. Damschen stated that the state can easily continue to afford what it’s spending and believes that it is a benefit to local communities who depend on the tourism dollars provided from the National Parks.
“Can we? Absolutely yes,” stated Damschen, “Should we? That’s not my call, but I’m supportive of the decisions made thus far.”
The Utah Office of Tourism reported that Springdale was still seeing the same amount of visitors as to what it had seen last year, when the government was not closed, serving as a sign that the local economy was not being harmed by the shutdown.
While the price to maintain the parks opened is steep, the $10,000 a day is significantly less that the million dollars Utah spent during the last two major government shutdowns. With funding being lessened, the level of services are also smaller.
Utah Governor Gary Herbert has complained that the state was never reimbursed for what they had spent during the last shutdown, and State Treasurer David Damschen believes that Utah will likely never see that money again due to a government policy that prevents them from giving the money back.