DENVER (KDVR) — Several states are fighting to keep their national parks open during a potential government shutdown, including Colorado.
Gov. Jared Polis issued an executive order for the state’s Department of Natural Resources to come up with a plan, and the clock is ticking.
“We got to get this done,” said U.S. Sen. John Hickenlooper, D-Colorado. “You cannot shut down the government. It’s not fair to the people in this country.”
Hickenlooper knows the stakes for Coloradans if the government shuts down.
“Between active military in Colorado and federal workers,” Hickenlooper said, “we have almost 100,000 people in Colorado, they’d be sidelined.”
Colorado paid rangers in 2013 government shutdown
Hickenlooper was Colorado’s governor during the shutdown in 2013 and said the state paid park rangers when the feds couldn’t.
“The state of Colorado ended up having to pay the workers at Rocky Mountain National Park to keep the park open because the leaves were turning,” Hickenlooper said.
The U.S. Department of the Interior said states will have to pay this time, too, and cannot rely on getting a refund. It will be up to the Colorado Department of Natural Resources to devise a plan to do just that.
Hickenlooper highlighted why that is important, especially at this time of year.
“It’s like the biggest three weeks of the whole year for those small businesses in Estes Park, and I hope it doesn’t come to that,” Hickenlooper said of travelers setting out to see the leaves change color for the fall.
Other states are also working to keep their national parks open.
Utah’s governor wants to tap state funds to keep Zion open. Arizona might use funds from its lottery program to keep the Grand Canyon from shutting down.