Interior Re-Opens National Parks with State Support

The Washington Post reports:

On Saturday, the barricades at Utah’s Natural Bridges National Monument disappeared, allowing visitors to return to the tourist draw despite the government shutdown. They also came down at Colorado’s Rocky Mountain National Park, Arizona’s Grand Canyon and New York’s Statue of Liberty. . . .

In an interview Friday, Utah Gov. Gary R. Herbert (R) said he and [Interior Secretary Sally] Jewell worked out the agreement in the course of three or four conversations in recent days. After initially seeking permission to reopen the park and staff it with volunteers and others provided by the state, he agreed to pay for federal employees to return in order to revive the tourism that sustains several local communities near federal lands. . . .

By Friday night, Jewell had managed to strike deals with leaders in five states to reopen iconic sites, with states fronting the money to operate them.. . . .

While the Park Service had originally resisted the idea of accepting donations from outside groups or individual states to reopen sites, the Interior Department reversed course as the shutdown dragged on and state and local leaders warned that their economies were in peril.

Meanwhile, the USFS has (thus far) rejected similar arrangements with private operators. CoyoteBlog has more here.