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Brewer: Grand Canyon to fully open on Saturday

PHOENIX — Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer announced the Grand Canyon will open on Saturday after being closed due to the government shutdown.

The state was balking at paying for a full reopening of the Grand
Canyon at a cost of $112,000 a day.

“I’m gratified the Obama administration agreed to reverse its policy and allow Arizona to reopen Grand Canyon, Arizona’s most treasured landmark and a crucial driver of revenue to the state,” Brewer said in a statement.

“While this deal will buy us some time and bring back lost revenue to the state, I would hope our elected officials in Washington move urgently to negotiate an immediate end to this government standstill. Arizona is doing what it can to keep the Grand Canyon up and running, but we cannot pay the federal government’s tab for long.”

The Grand Canyon draws about 18,000 visitors a day this time of year. They pump
an estimated $1 million daily into the local economy.

The Interior Department said Thursday that states opting to reopen their parks
can’t choose that partial option because it would be too complicated. Officials
also said states wouldn’t be repaid for the money they spend to reopen the park,
another point of contention for Arizona officials.

Arizona was the only state that reopened a national park after the 1995
shutdown, with then-Gov. Fife Symington negotiated a deal to open the road to
the Grand Canyon with private and state money that was later reimbursed. The
majority of the park remained closed, but tourists from around the world were
able to get to the most popular scenic overlooks using 11 miles of roadway, walk
the South Rim and visit the Grand Canyon Village.

Friday’s talks came as five national parks in Utah began reopening because Gov.
Gary Herbert wired $1.67 million to federal officials. They’re all expected to
be reopened by Saturday.