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Arizona wants Grand Canyon funding money back

PHOENIX — Gov. Jan Brewer’s spokesman Andrew Wilder said Thursday that the state will ask the federal government to reimburse the more $450,000 the state spent to keep Grand Canyon National Park open during the shutdown.

The $1 million the state wired to feds Wednesday that would have been spent to keep the park open Oct. 20-27, will be refunded in full.

Arizona and the town of Tusayan sent the initial funding to keep the park open from last Saturday through Wednesday.

There’s no guarantee Tusayan will see any of the $142,000 it contributed, but Mayor Greg Bryan said it was well worth it.

“It was extremely meaningful,” he said. “We were able to save a few Colorado River rafting trips and people started coming back.”

Bryan testified before a House committee in Washington on Wednesday on the ramifications of the closure.

Tusayan’s hotel and motel occupancy dropped from 95 percent to 30 percent during the shutdown, which coincided with peak tourist season.

Bryan also told the committee that his town, the state and private donors had the dollars to keep the park from shutting down and the feds immediately said no.

“We have concerns about that. We believe when a national park closes, individuals and the community comes forward to help, it should be allowed.”

A spokesman for Sen. John McCain said the Arizona Republican was working with lawmakers from
other states that reopened parks to craft legislation allowing repayments.

Associated Press contributed to this article.