"This is a godsend!" exclaimed Utah Gov. Gary Herbert late Thursday night, as he signed an agreement with the Department of the Interior to use state funds to reopen eight national park areas in his state for at least 10 days.
The Republican governor wasted no time in wiring $1.67 million to Washington overnight so that some of the areas can open as early as today. Rangers and other National Park Service employees will staff the parks as usual.
An estimated 7 million people have been shut out at 12 of the busiest and biggest U.S. national parks, costing parks and nearby communities about $76 million in lost visitor spending for each day the partial government shutdown drags on.
The town of Estes Park was dealt a harsh blow in the recent rain and subsequent flooding that hit Colorado’s Front Range. The town is still essentially cut off, with few ways in and out. For a town dependent on tourism, limited access means fewer dollars being spent.