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Tobin: Federal rejection of Grand Canyon plan ‘absurd’

PHOENIX — The closure of the Grand Canyon National Park is hammering the economies of Tusayan, Page, Williams and others that rely on tourism as their lifeblood.

Arizona House Speaker Andy Tobin said the state — along with private donations — could foot the $500,000 cost that it would take to reopen the canyon through the month of October but the federal government won’t consider it.

“We’d like to step in and get the Grand Canyon reopened. This is critical to Arizona’s economy and they’re refusing to take private or public dollars.”

Tobin also lashed out at Senate Democrats and President Barack Obama.

“They’re more interested in keeping Obamacare than opening up our parks,” he said. “The message is loud and clear and I can’t understand how they can do this to a state. I mean really? For one year we can’t get a reprieve from Obamacare? They’re holding our state hostage.”

Tobin said the impact of the closure isn’t limited to the communities surrounding the Grand Canyon. It has a ripple effect that could seriously dent Arizona’s economy just when it is coming back strong from the recession.

“People don’t just go to the Grand Canyon, they come to the Valley and other parts of the state,” he said. “I’m very nervous about this and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t. I live in rural Arizona and tourism is huge. I couldn’t be more disgusted. It’s one punch after another when it comes to Washington, D.C.”