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Ariz. congressional delegation wants refund for leaving Grand Canyon open during shutdown

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(Source: MGN Online) (Source: MGN Online)

The nine members of Arizona's congressional delegation sent a letter to the director of the National Park Service asking for $465,000 to be reimbursed back to the state for keeping Grand Canyon National Park open during the government shutdown.

State and business donors leveraged the money to reopen the park for five days in October while the Park Service reaped a "shutdown windfall" by collecting entrance fees and retroactive funding with the passage of the Contenting Resolution, said Sen. John McCain.

The letter reads in part:

We write to urge the National Park Service ("Park Service") to follow past practice and provide a full refund to the State of Arizona (the "State) for funds made available to temporarily reopen the Grand Canyon National Park (the "Park") during the recent government shutdown.

As you know, the Park was closed during the 16-day lapse in federal appropriations beginning October 1, 2013, and lasting until October 17, 2013. The resulting federal lockout of Arizona's premier national park brought unnecessary economic hardship to our State as thousands of visitors were turned away taking with them millions in unspent tourism dollars. Businesses in the Town of Tusayan—the gateway to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon—lost an estimated $200,000 per day. Some 2,200 employees inside the park—many working minimum-wage food service and hotel jobs—were laid off, and food banks from Phoenix had to rush supplies north to feed them.

The letter goes on to say Arizonian Gov. Jan Brewer was able to enter into a special arrangement with the Park Service to temporarily reopen the Grand Canyon.

"Under the terms of that intergovernmental agreement, the State made funds available to cover the cost of operating the Park for five days beginning October 12 through October 16, 2013, for a total of $465,000," the letter states. "This arrangement is similar to an agreement the Park Service entered into with the State during a portion of the 1995 federal government shutdown. Under the 1995 agreement, the State provided $370,125 to keep Grand Canyon Village open for 21 days until the federal government reopened on January 6, 1996."

To read the full letter, click here.

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