Arizona’s Grand Canyon National Park will remain open even if the federal government shuts down at the end of the month, Governor Katie Hobbs announced Wednesday.
Hobbs, a Democrat, said she is prepared to continue a strategy first used by former Republican Governor Doug Ducey to utilize state funds to maintain operations at the iconic park.
“Arizona should not have to suffer because of the federal government’s inaction,” Hobbs said in a statement. “The Grand Canyon is a pillar of our state and provides good paying jobs for hundreds of Arizonans while showcasing one of the seven natural wonders of the world to those who visit. I am proud to offer resources to keep the park open and am committed to ensuring Arizonans are protected from Washington’s failure.”
The pledge comes amid an apparent stalemate in Congress over bills to fund the federal government past September 30th. Without a last-minute compromise, the government will enter a partial shutdown starting October 1st, affecting services from the IRS to the National Guard.
Previous government shutdowns under President Trump wreaked havoc at national parks across the country. In early 2018, Ducey chose to pay to maintain park staff when federal dollars temporarily lapsed. Later that year, the government shut down for 35 days from December 2018 to January 2019. Ducey had issued an executive order to keep basic services like trash collection, restroom maintenance and snow removal funded at the Grand Canyon, but the visitors center and ranger-led tours were closed.
The National Park Service allowed parks to remain open without staff during the 2018-2019 shutdown, leading to reports of damage at parks like Joshua Tree from unsupervised visitors. By keeping the Grand Canyon staffed with state money, Governor Hobbs aims to avoid similar issues.
The Grand Canyon sees over 6 million visitors annually and contributes more than $1 billion to Arizona’s economy, according to recent reports. The park also employs hundreds of Arizonans. Utah lawmakers are also working on plans to keep their state’s five national parks open if the federal government shuts down this month.
“The Grand Canyon is not just a national park – it’s one of the seven natural wonders of the world and a pillar of Arizona’s economy and identity,” said Hobbs. “I’m committed to working across party lines to protect this iconic place no matter what happens in Washington.”
Cover photo courtesy of: Christine Roy