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No Plans To Reopen Northwest National Parks, Monuments With State Funds

Jimmy Emerson

The governors of Washington, Oregon and Idaho say they have no plans to reopen national parks and monuments using state dollars. President Obama has given states that option as the federal government shutdown stretches into day 11 and beyond.

Utah immediately took the president up on his offer.  A $1.6 million check to the federal treasury allows the Beehive State to reopen several economically important national parks and monuments.

But here in the Northwest, tourist magnets like Mount Rainier, Crater Lake and Craters of the Moon remain closed.

A spokesman for Idaho Governor Butch Otter said they’re monitoring the impacts of park and monument closures – including Yellowstone in neighboring Wyoming - but don’t currently see a need to spend state dollars to reopen federal assets.

In an email, Washington Governor Jay Inslee’s office said, "There are no state resources for opening federal parks at this time."

That disappoints Kimberly Tkach. She manages the Gateway Inn at the Nisqually, Wash., entrance to Mount Rainier.

"That really makes me mad," Tkach said. "I mean this is my livelihood. I live right outside the park. I’m 50 feet from the entrance. And if there’s no park then I have no job."

Tkach said she’s lost half her bookings over the past two weeks since the park closed as a result of the partial federal government shutdown. She believes if the state ponied up to reopen Mount Rainier it could make that money back in tax revenues. Still, she reserves most of her ire for Congress not state officials.

Since January 2004, Austin Jenkins has been the Olympia-based political reporter for the Northwest News Network. In that position, Austin covers Northwest politics and public policy, as well as the Washington State Legislature. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) Emmy-nominated public affairs program "Inside Olympia."