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Arizona and Utah will keep iconic national parks in those states open if a shutdown of the federal government threatens access to Arizona’s orange-striped Grand Canyon and the sheer red cliffs of Utah’s Zion Valley.
Most importantly for state budgets, visitors can keep spending their money near the parks.
A cutoff could come Sunday. The economic impact of the national parks is so important that Arizona’s Democratic governor and Utah’s Republican governor have decided to invest state funds in keeping Grand Canyon, Zion, Arches, Bryce Canyon, Capitol Reef and Canyonlands national parks open.
For Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs and Utah Gov. Spencer Cox, it’s a simple question of economics.
The nonprofit National Parks Conservation Association says that every $1 invested in the National Park Service annually supports more than $15 in economic activity.
The association says that every day of a shutdown could mean national parks collectively losing nearly 1 million visitors, and gateway communities losing as much as $70 million.
Hobbs and Cox say their states will pay to keep those parks operating on a basic level, cushioning tourism-dependent communities.
“We expect to be reimbursed, just as federal employees receive back pay during a shutdown, and we have communicated this to the Department of Interior,” Cox said this week.
Hobbs has said Arizona Lottery funds would help keep the Grand Canyon park open.