The National Park Service today announced that it has entered into an agreement with the State of Arizona that will allow Grand Canyon National Park to re-open and temporarily operate during the government shutdown.
Due to the lack of appropriations from Congress, the Department of the Interior was forced to close all national parks across the country last week and furlough more than 20,000 National Park Service employees who ensure the safety of visitors and the security of the resources.
Responding to the economic impacts that the park closures are having on many communities and local businesses, Secretary of the Interior Jewell announced Thursday that she will consider agreements with Governors who indicate an interest and ability to fully fund National Park Service personnel to re-open national parks in their states.
“This is a practical and temporary solution that will lessen the pain for some businesses and communities in Arizona during this shutdown,” said Secretary Sally Jewell. “We want to re-open all of our national parks as quickly possible for everyone to enjoy and call on Congress to pass a clean continuing resolution to open the government.”
Under the terms of the agreement, Arizona will donate funds to the National Park Service for the sole purpose of enabling National Park Service employees to re-open and manage Grand Canyon National Park.
The agreement funds Grand Canyon for a period of 7 days, running from Saturday, October 12 through Friday, October 18 at the donated amount of $651,000.00.
Entrances to Grand Canyon will open to the public beginning at 8:00 a.m. on Saturday, October 12. These include the North Rim Entrance Station, the Desert View Entrance Station, and the South Rim Entrance Station. Visitors should be aware that during the first 48 hours many services will be limited.
As stated in the October 7 announcement of the River Permits Accommodation Plan, permittees who had launch dates three days prior to opening and including opening day, may choose to get a refund for permit fees and reschedule. River permit holders with the current launch date will have priority to launch on their scheduled date.
Xanterra South Rim, LLC and Delaware North Companies, Inc. will re-open concessions operated services with limited amenities for the first 48 hours. Guests with hotel reservations should contact Xanterra South Rim directly at 928-638-2631.
The North Rim will re-open for day use with limited visitor services available. The Grand Canyon Lodge operated by Forever Resorts will also re-open with limited guest services; individuals with lodge reservations should contact Forever Resorts 877-386-4383.
During the federal government shutdown in 1995, Arizona operated Grand Canyon at a cost of about $17,000 a day; that figure is expected to be much higher today.
The Coconino County Board of Supervisors issued this statement earlier today.
“The Coconino County Board of Supervisors supports today’s decision by the federal government to allow state officials to finance the reopening of our National Parks shuttered by the government shutdown. We urge Gov. Jan Brewer to work with our federal partners to reopen our state’s National Parks as quickly and orderly as possible.
“The closure of the Grand Canyon National Park, Glen Canyon National Recreation Area and Lake Powell has greatly impacted local businesses and families throughout Coconino County. Each day these areas remain closed millions in tourism dollars are lost.
The Board has sent letters to our Congressional delegation detailing how the shutdown continues to impact the County, our residents, businesses and local tourism industry. The County will continue to work with our federal, state and local officials to help minimize the impact of the shutdown to our residents.”
Photo credit: Bill Ferris Photography