If a federal government shutdown makes it such that visitors can’t visit the Grand Canyon or Zion National Park in Arizona or Utah, those states will keep those parks open. The Republican governor of Utah, Spencer Cox, and Democratic governor of Arizona, Katie Hobbs, recognize the economic importance of maintaining access to the Grand Canyon, Arches, Zion, Capitol Reef, Bryce Canyon, and Canyonlands National Parks.
According to the non-profit National Parks Conservation Association, every dollar put into the National Park Service generates more than $15 in economic activity. A shutdown could cost national parks and gateway cities as much as $70 million per day in lost revenue. Governor Katie Hobbs of Arizona and Governor Spencer Cox of Utah have stated that their governments will cover the cost of maintaining the parks at a minimum level to protect the towns that rely on tourism.
The Grand Canyon Park could remain open thanks to money from the Arizona Lottery. In the final days of December 2018, Utah spent nearly $7,500 each day to keep Bryce Canyon, Zion, and Arches open despite the government shutdown. The Zion Forever Project, a nonprofit, pledged $16,000 to support a skeleton crew employed and the visitor center and restrooms operational, allowing Zion to continue to welcome its thousands of daily tourists.
Arizona will remain open to tourists during a shutdown even though state money won’t cover all usual operational expenditures. According to the National Park Conservation Association, keeping parks open during a shutdown without enough staff or resources can have severe effects. According to reports, Joshua Tree National Park is in particularly horrible shape, with trash and portable toilets overflowing.
Employees at national parks who were not placed on leave were required to work without pay, with compensation provided once a budget deal was made. Members of Grand Canyon National Park’s emergency services, including medical, search and rescue, and firefighting teams, are among those who would be called upon to serve in the event of another possible shutdown.
National Parks Conservation Association’s Senior Director of Budget & Appropriations, John Garder, said state governments should not be expected to shoulder the financial burden of maintaining national parks.