Our readers likely recall how former President Barack Obama and his administration made a big deal out of closing down popular national parks and monuments during the 2013 government shutdown, and there were some who feared something similar would occur during the recent three-day shutdown sparked by Senate Democrats.
But according to KNXV, Republican Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey took preemptive steps to ensure there would be no similar closure during this recent shutdown of arguably the biggest tourist draw offered by the state — the Grand Canyon.
The Trump administration attempted to ensure American citizens that they would strive to allow “limited access” to national parks and monuments wherever possible, but the Interior Department which manages those parks — including the Grand Canyon — admitted that they would have to close down access to upwards of 417 different national park sites.
However, according to a news release from Gov. Ducey’s office on Jan. 19, Arizona had partnered with the National Park Service, and by way of funds provided by the Arizona State Parks and Trails and Office of Tourism, the Grand Canyon was able to stay open to all visitors.
NEW: We just completed a transfer of state funds to the Department of @Interior to continue to keep the #GrandCanyon open and to protect #Arizona from the impacts of the #GovernmentShutdown pic.twitter.com/ZMe3ykGAKl
— Doug Ducey (@dougducey) January 22, 2018
“The Grand Canyon will not close on our watch. Period,” stated Ducey. “If Washington, D.C. won’t function, Arizona will.”
“By working together with the National Park Service, and with dollars from our Parks and Tourism departments, we have identified state resources and will make sure the Grand Canyon stays open,” he added. “Don’t change your travel plans, because Arizona is open for business — regardless of what happens back in Congress.”
The #GrandCanyon will not close on our watch. Period. If Washington,
DC won’t function. Arizona WILL. Don’t change your travel plans. Count on it.
— Doug Ducey (@dougducey) January 19, 2018
The news release stated that all normal services offered at the park — including beverages, food, lodging, retail, campsites, trails and other services –would face no closures of any sort due to the government shutdown.
According to The Arizona Republic, Ducey’s proactive move was a far cry from how previous governors in Arizona had dealt with government shutdowns that forced the closure of the Grand Canyon.
In 2013, then-Gov. Jan Brewer initially made no moves to address the closure of the Grand Canyon during the shutdown, and insisted that Arizonans cared about other issues far more than visiting national parks.
However, as the shutdown dragged on, Brewer ultimately reached an agreement with the National Park Service that saw Arizona pay $93,000 per day to reopen the Grand Canyon prior to the shutdown ending.
That was a vastly different reaction to a shutdown than that of former Gov. Fife Symington, who nearly launched a “bloodless coup” in a fruitless effort to force the reopening of the Grand Canyon during a government shutdown in 1995.
Symington actually showed up at the national park with 50 unarmed National Guardsmen and a couple dozen state workers in tow to take over the park, but after a standoff with park officials and failed negotiations with the Interior Department, ultimately backed down and sent his “troops” home. During a brief shutdown later that year, Symington partnered state funds with private donors ahead of time and paid $17,625 per day to keep the park open, funds which were later reimbursed.
Gov. Ducey skipped all of that in his bid to ensure that the problems of internecine squabbles among factions of the big federal government wouldn’t have an overt effect on the residents and visitors to his state who wished to see the wondrous Grand Canyon while the government was shutdown.
He also proved that states are more than capable of taking care of themselves without the “help” of the federal government in some aspects, if need be — a message we wish more states would push going forward.
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