OUTDOORS + RECREATION

‘We’ll find the money’: Utah leaders working to keep national parks open during potential government shutdown

Sep 23, 2023, 11:00 AM | Updated: 11:10 am

SALT LAKE CITY -- With just a week until a potential government shutdown, Utah leaders are saying U...

White Rim Trail in Canyonlands National Park. (Ravell Call)

(Ravell Call)

SALT LAKE CITY — With just a week until a potential government shutdown, Utah leaders are saying Utah’s national parks will remain open without federal funding. 

Gov. Spencer Cox said that when there was a national shutdown in 2013, state leaders cut a deal with the federal government that kept the gates open.

“Utah funded that to about a million dollars over those 35 days,” he explained. “We never did get reimbursed for that, Congress was supposed to do that and never did, so those are the kind of partners that we are dealing with.”  

Utah Sen. President Stuart Adams, R-Layton, told KSL NewsRadio that they are working again to make sure that parks stay open if a shutdown were to occur.

‘We’ll find that money’

Finding funding for the parks is a daunting task. Especially in Utah, Adams noted, where they’re cutting taxes and putting money away to balance the budget. However, he said they’ll find a way to do it. 

“We’ll find that money,” he said, “Move appropriations around, try to move spending priorities, because this, this has to be a priority for us.”

Gov. Cox said they don’t believe they will need to call a special legislative session to unleash more money.

“We think we have enough right now that we can do that,” he said. “And then we can adjust the budget next year.”

Adams said that during the last shutdown, they worked with the Department of the Interior. They hope to do the same this time around. 

“They’re the ones that have control of it,” he said. 

Adams said in order to keep the parks running, it would take a combination of the state stepping in and instituting their own paid employees and appropriating current federal staff as well.  

“Hopefully with that cooperation, we’re able to get the best result.”

Communities rely on national parks to stay open during a government shutdown

Though Labor Day has passed and summer is over, these national parks are as busy as ever. In fact, Adams said some parks reach their peak once temperatures start to cool down. 

“If the tourism stopped, you probably destroy the budget for the entire county, because that’s what they rely on.” 

“This is a big deal for Utah,” Adams continued. “It’s a big deal for our nation.”

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‘We’ll find the money’: Utah leaders working to keep national parks open during potential government shutdown