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Some US National Parks Re-Open With Funding From States

Some US National Parks Re-Open With Funding From Statesi
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October 14, 2013
Some of America's best-known national parks have re-opened after being forced to close for almost two weeks due to the shutdown of the U.S. federal government. As VOA's Michael Lipin explains, several state governments decided they are better off funding the parks themselves than leaving them closed.
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Some of America's best-known national parks have re-opened after being forced to close for almost two weeks due to the shutdown of the U.S. federal government. Several state governments decided they are better off funding the parks themselves than leaving them closed.

The Statue of Liberty was back in business on Sunday after a 12-day closure. Tourists, who feared they might miss the New York icon, were thrilled.

They flocked to Battery Park to catch the ferry to Liberty Island.

"We didn't think we were going to be able to go, so this is beyond anything that we had expected," said a Canadian tourist.

The Statue of Liberty is one of about 400 national monuments and parks that closed on October 1.

That is when disputes over the federal budget prompted a partial shutdown of federal agencies, including the National Park Service.

New York State said the shutdown was costing New York City millions of dollars in lost tourism revenue.

So, it agreed to pay the National Park Service $370,000 to open the statue to visitors from Sunday to Thursday.

Three other states have made similar deals with the federal government.

Arizona officials decided to spend $93,000 a day to let visitors back into the Grand Canyon.

Governor Jan Brewer said the site is worth it.

"This brings an enormous amount of revenue to the economy, to the state of Arizona, and to our tax coffers.  So it was the right thing to do. And when we run out of seven days, we'll have to reassess, but we are committed," said Brewer.

About two-thirds of the funds to re-open the Canyon were donated by the nearby town of Tusayan. Mayor Greg Bryan said the closure hurt local business.  

"We estimate that well over a million dollars in the first week alone was lost, in terms of revenues coming into the community and into the Park Service with regard to their gate fees, as well as the revenues from the concessionaires up here. So in 11 days, we're talking millions of dollars, " said Bryan.

Elsewhere, South Dakota is paying $152,000 to re-open Mount Rushmore for 10 days, starting Monday.

The cliff bearing the faces of four American presidents draws almost three million visitors a year.

And Utah opened up eight of its national sites on Friday for a 10-day period, at a cost of $1.6 million.

The Republican-controlled House of Representatives has approved several bills to fund parts of the government including national parks.

But the Democratic-led Senate and the White House oppose partial measures, saying the House should agree to open the entire government at once.

Michael Lipin

Michael covers international news for VOA on the web, radio and TV, specializing in the Middle East and East Asia Pacific. Follow him on Twitter @Michael_Lipin

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