Arizona and Utah have decided to keep their iconic national parks open in the event of a federal government shutdown, ensuring continued access for visitors and supporting local economies. The state governors recognize the importance of the economic impact generated by the national parks, with every $1 invested in the National Park Service resulting in over $15 in economic activity. If a shutdown occurs, Arizona and Utah will invest state funds to keep parks like the Grand Canyon and Zion operational, alleviating the financial strain on tourism-dependent communities. However, it is emphasized that it should be the federal government’s responsibility to fund and keep the parks open.
During previous shutdowns, keeping parks open with insufficient staff and resources has resulted in damage, vandalism, and environmental problems. States like Arizona and Utah had to allocate significant funds for basic maintenance and services during previous shutdowns, with the expectation of reimbursement from the federal government. While state funding may not cover all operating costs, it still allows visitors to enjoy the parks. The nonprofit National Parks Conservation Association stresses that the shutdown could potentially impact over 400 sites in the US, demonstrating the need for Congress to ensure consistent funding and operation of national parks.
In contrast to Arizona and Utah, other states like Washington and California do not plan to provide additional funding or staff for national parks in the event of a government shutdown. Washington’s governor’s office cites other important budgetary needs, such as post-wildfire cleanup and recovery, while California maintains that the parks are not within its jurisdiction. The decisions made by state governments regarding national parks’ funding during a shutdown have significant economic repercussions, particularly for communities that rely on the tourism industry.