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States react to Obama offer to pay to reopen parks
Ten days after the partial shutdown of the federal government shuttered the Statue of Liberty, Grand Canyon and other national parks, the Obama administration has offered to let states foot the bill to reopen parks within their borders. Here's how states are reacting to the offer:
State officials were negotiating with federal officials over the possible reopening of the Grand Canyon. Gov. Jan Brewer is pressing for a partial, less expensive reopening. Interior Department officials said that is not an option.
Gov. John Hickenlooper wants to at least open a scenic road through Rocky Mountain National Park so more visitors can reach the gateway town of Estes Park, which was hit hard by flooding and hopes to attract more tourists to boost the economy.
Gov. Steve Bullock said his state won't pick up the tab to reopen Glacier National Park. Bullock said that it's long past time for Congress to end the "reckless and job-killing shutdown."
Gov. Brian Sandoval said his state can't afford the costs of reopening parks when it is already facing critical funding decisions on food stamps, unemployment insurance and aid to women, infants and children.
Negotiations were underway on the possible reopening of the Statue of Liberty but no deal had been reached, according to an official who spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn't authorized to speak publicly.
Gov. Dennis Daugaard was considering the government's offer but wanted to see how much it would cost. Daugaard was one of at least four governors who requested the authority to open some or all of their parks.
Utah was the first state to jump at the federal government's offer, with Gov. Gary Herbert signing a deal for a 10-day reopening of the state's five national parks. State officials wired $1.67 million to the federal government, and National Park Service workers began removing barriers and opening gates.
Gov. Jay Inslee's office said the state does not have the money to reopen its popular parks, including Mount Rainier National Park and Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument.
Gov. Matt Mead's office said the state would not pay to reopen two heavily visited national parks or the Devil's Tower national monument. Mead spokesman Renny MacKay said, "Wyoming cannot bail out the federal government."
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