The Interior Department issues a report every year on the economic benefit of national parks. This year, that was complicated by the government shutdown that closed the parks for 16 days in October.
The report from the National Park Service estimates parks and gateway communities lost more than 400-million dollars in visitor spending during the 16-day government shutdown.
In Utah, the parks were closed for ten days before Governor Gary Herbert made a deal with Interior Secretary Sally Jewell to re-open them with state money. For every dollar the state spent, the report says the benefit to the parks and local communities was about ten dollars. But Secretary Jewell said Governor Herbert knew there was no guarantee the state would get its money back from the federal government.
Jewell told a conference call with reporters, “[Herbert] has worked with the Congressional delegation in Utah and I think other states to introduce legislation to secure support for reimbursement of the states, but that was not part of the transaction we did together, in fact, it was very clear in the documents that we signed together that there would be no promise of reimbursement.”
While Utah’s parks and surrounding communities lost more than fifteen million dollars in economic benefits during the shutdown, the hardest-hit was Great Smoky National Park in Tennessee. The report says the loss there was more than 25-million dollars.