The Grand Canyon will reopen tomorrow under a deal struck by Gov. Jan Brewer with the U.S. Department of Interior.
After huddling with department officials on a conference call Friday afternoon, Brewer announced the national park would be reopened in full on Saturday, effective at 12:01 a.m. The state will pay $651,000, or under $93,000 per day, to fund the park’s operations for at least the next week, using a mix of state dollars and other monies, some pledged by Tusayan Mayor Greg Bryan, where businesses have struggled with the lack of tourism business at the Canyon.
The park has been closed since Oct. 1, the first day of the federal government shutdown.
“I’m gratified the Obama administration has agreed to reverse its policy and allow Arizona to reopen Grand Canyon, Arizona’s most treasured landmark and a crucial driver of revenue for the state,” Brewer said in a statement. “With a long weekend in front of us, I am thrilled Grand Canyon will be open and fully operational.”
Roughly $200,000 will be donated by Tusayan, while the rest of the funds needed to reopen the park for a week will come from the state’s tourism funds, according to Brewer spokesman Andrew Wilder.
Brewer’s initial offer – a partial reopening of the Grand Canyon similar to an agreement Arizona reached with the feds during the last government shutdown in 1995 – was rejected, but the daily cost to Arizona to reopen the park in full are less than federal projections, which estimated it would cost the state $112,000 per day.
The Obama administration has provided no assurances that Arizona will be reimbursed for any state dollars used to fund the Grand Canyon operations.
“They’re not doing that with any state,” Wilder said. “We believe they could be more helpful in that regard, but we will undoubtedly seek support from our congressional delegation to have Arizona reimbursed for any state funds used during the shutdown.”
Brewer urged the Arizona’s congressional delegation to secure full reimbursement for the state’s funds.
If the shutdown continues past the seven days Brewer negotiated to fund the park’s operations, the state will reassess its options. Tourism funds don’t require legislative approval to be used to fund Grand Canyon operations, but other potential funding sources from the state’s coffers would require action by the Legislature.
Brewer urged officials in Washington to break their impasse and reopen the government.
“Arizona is doing what it can to keep the Grand Canyon up and running, but we cannot pay the federal government’s tab for long,” she said.