No Plans To Reopen Northwest National Parks, Monuments With State Funds

By Austin Jenkins

The governors of Washington, Oregon and Idaho say they have no plans to reopen national parks and monuments using state dollars. President Obama has given states that option as the federal government shutdown stretches into day 11 and beyond.

Utah immediately took the President up on his offer. A million-and-a-half check to the federal treasury allows the Beehive state to reopen several economically important national parks and monuments. But here in the Northwest, tourist magnets like Mt. Rainier, Crater Lake and Craters of the Moon remain closed. 

A spokesperson for Idaho Governor Butch Otter says they’re monitoring the impacts of park and monument closures – including Yellowstone in neighboring Wyoming - but don’t currently see a need to spend state dollars to reopen federal assets. In an email, Washington Governor Jay Inslee’s office says “There are no state resources for opening federal parks at this time.” That disappoints Kimberly Tkach. She manages the Gateway Inn at the Nisqually entrance to Mt. Rainier.

Kimberly Tkach: “That really makes me mad. I mean this is my livelihood. I live right outside the park. I’m 50 feet from the entrance. And if there’s no park then I have no job.”

Tkach says she’s lost half her bookings over the past two weeks since the park closed as a result of the partial federal government shutdown. She believes if the state ponied up to reopen Mt. Rainier it could make that money back in tax revenues. Still, she reserves most of her ire for Congress not state officials.

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