Arizona and Utah have decided to use state funds to keep their national parks open in the event of a federal government shutdown. The governors of both states recognize the economic impact of the parks and the importance of tourism to their local communities. The National Parks Conservation Association states that every $1 invested in the National Park Service generates over $15 in economic activity. A shutdown could result in the loss of nearly 1 million visitors to the national parks and a potential loss of $70 million for gateway communities.
During previous shutdowns, parks that remained open without sufficient staff and resources experienced negative consequences such as overflowing trash, vandalism, and damage to the natural environment. Arizona paid around $64,000 per week during a previous shutdown to cover basic services at the Grand Canyon, but state funding was not sufficient to cover all operating costs. The governors expect to be reimbursed by the federal government and believe that it is ultimately Congress’ responsibility to ensure the parks are funded and open.
In contrast, some states like Washington and California have no plans to provide additional funding or staff to national parks in the event of a shutdown. Washington’s governor has prioritized spending on wildfire cleanup and recovery, while California faced a significant budget shortfall this year. The National Park Conservation Association warns that a shutdown could affect more than 400 sites across the country. Wyoming and Montana are still assessing their options and awaiting more information before deciding on potential state funding to keep parks open.