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Tusayan council OKs funds in attempt to reopen Grand Canyon

PHOENIX — The town of Tusayan has $350,000 ready to use in an effort to get the Grand Canyon National Park reopened.

Private donations totaled about $150,000 Friday morning and Mayor Greg Bryan said the town has authorized an expenditure of up to $200,000 to entice the National Park Service to change its mind about accepting funds to partially reopen the park.

During the 1995 government shutdown, then-Gov. Fife Symington used state resources and private donations to keep the Grand Canyon partially open. Vail is asking Gov. Brewer to do the same although it would take legislative approval to use state funds to reopen the park.

Bryan said Tusayan is losing more than $100,000 each day of the shutdown. The federal government said it cannot accept local, state or private funds for the park. That’s not going to stop Clarinda Vail with Red Feather Properties in Tusayan from trying.

“We feel the National Park Service is being used as a pawn and we don’t blame the local park representatives. We know this came from the top.”

Vail said she personally kicked in $25,000. A tearful Vail said the group is trying to give back to the Grand Canyon what it has provided Tusayan for so long.

“This is a once in a lifetime event for many visitors. It is painful to see the disappointment of foreign visitors that are being turned away after they’ve spent years of planning and paying for the trip.”