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Utah pays up to reopen national parks Saturday

PHOENIX — For the first time since the federal government’s partial shutdown began nearly two weeks ago, water sports enthusiast could be back on Utah’s Lake Powell this weekend.

Utah is in the process of reopening five national parks using state money, after the government announced states could reopen their nationals parks if they came up with the funds.

Arizona officials were set to speak with Interior Department
staff Friday about a plan to reopen the Grand Canyon National Park, but the
state is balking at paying for a full reopening at a cost of $112,000 a day,
said a spokesman for Republican Gov. Jan Brewer.

Arches, Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, and Zion will be open in Utah by Saturday. Three other locations that will be opened are Natural Bridges and Cedar Breaks national monuments, as well as Glen Canyon National Recreation Area.

Antelope Point Marina is reopening Friday at noon and Lake Powell Marina is trying to get ready for Saturday.

Ally Isom, deputy chief of staff for Utah Gov. Gary Herbert, said Friday the office has wired $1.67 million to the federal government.

“By tomorrow major parks in the state of Utah are back in business. Then our congressional delegation will work to get the state reimbursed. The parks put staff on alert last night that this was coming and the gates are being unlocked,” Isom said.

Utah’s national parks pump $100 million into the economy each October.

“You don’t make up October in January, it’s now. We’re trying to restore a sense of economic stability to the communities hurt by the government shutdown,” Isom said.

The reopening of the parks is good news for Page, Ariz., which is the gateway to that area. The community has taken a financial hit since the shutdown.

Associated Press contributed to this article.

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