Hatch, Lee call on federal government to repay cost of opening Utah parks during shutdown
Ravell Call, Deseret News
SALT LAKE CITY — Utah Sens. Orrin Hatch and Mike Lee are asking the federal government to reimburse Utah for paying to reopen national parks during last year's partial government shutdown.
The National Park Access Act, introduced Tuesday, asks the federal government to reimburse six states — Utah, Arizona, Colorado, New York, South Dakota and Tennessee — that fronted the cost of reopening national parks last year.
Republicans Hatch and Lee are co-sponsoring the bill with Sens. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., Mark Udall, D-Colo., and Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn.
Hatch said the bill gives the congressional approval the U.S. Department of the Interior needs to repay costs associated with operating the parks during the shutdown.
"During the shutdown, the state of Utah stepped up to plate to front the operating costs of keeping our state’s national parks — key economic drivers in our state — open for all to see, and our state’s taxpayers deserve to be repaid," Hatch said.
The Department of the Interior recently pledged support to reimburse states who reopened national parks.
"Now that administration officials have publicly indicated their support, I look forward to passage of this bill so Washington can finally reimburse states what they are owed for keeping the parks open," Lee said.
Utah paid to reopen The Mighty Five — Arches, Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef and Zion national park; Cedar Breaks and Natural Bridges national monuments; and Glen Canyon National Recreation Area.
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