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Utah to pay federal government to reopen national parks

(Reuters) - Utah will reopen its national parks and monuments under a deal with the U.S. Department of the Interior, which closed the sites and other parks across the country as part of the partial federal government shutdown that began on October 1.

The western state will pay up to $1.67 million to the federal government to allow visitors to return to its five national parks, the Cedar Breaks and Natural Bridges national monuments, and the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, Utah Governor Gary Herbert said late Thursday.

The governor said the parks should be fully open by Saturday. The money would keep the parks open for up to 10 days, and the state could make additional payments to have them open longer.

Utah was among several states that appealed to Interior Secretary Sally Jewell with offers to fund staff in exchange for reopening some of the country's 401 national parks, and the department said on Thursday it was considering the requests.

The White House and Republican congressional leaders on Thursday appeared to move closer to ending the political standoff over the budget, which has put hundreds of thousands of federal employees out of work.

The government shutdown, in its eleventh day, also has weighed on communities that depend on tourism dollars. October is a peak travel month in many parts of Utah, typically bringing in about $100 million in tourism-related revenue, according to the governor's office.

The five national parks are Zion, Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands, Arches and Capitol Reef.

(This story is refiled to correct spelling of Capitol Reef national park in last paragraph)

(Reporting by Colleen Jenkins; Editing by Scott Malone and Steve Orlofsky)

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