Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey announced Friday, Jan. 19, that in the event of a federal government shutdown, the state of Arizona is prepared to provide resources to keep the Grand Canyon open. The state is partnering in this effort with the National Park Service, with help from Arizona State Parks and Trails and the Arizona Office of Tourism.
Congress failed to reach a budget deal by midnight Jan. 19 to keep the federal government open.
During a shutdown, nonessential federal employees are furloughed, i.e., sent home and not paid. Federal employees deemed "essential," such as postal workers, active military personnel, Border Patrol agents, etc., continue working but are not paid. Once a budget deal is reached, these essential employees are retroactively paid for their hours worked. There have been 12 government shutdowns since 1981, ranging from one to 21 days, most recently for 16 days in October 2013.
The Grand Canyon hosts more than 6 million visitors per year and is a major travel destination for visitors from around the world. Keeping the Grand Canyon open to these visitors is a priority to the state as is continuing to protect the natural and cultural resources that Arizona offers. The Grand Canyon also is a major economic pillar for surrounding communities in rural Arizona, including Sedona and the Verde Valley. Ducey's office stated he is committed to providing funding and assistance to maintain operations.
“The Grand Canyon will not close on our watch. Period,” Ducey stated. “If Washington, D.C. won’t function, Arizona will. By working together with the National Park Service, and with dollars from our Parks and Tourism departments, we have identified state resources and will make sure the Grand Canyon stays open. Don’t change your travel plans, because Arizona is open for business, regardless of what happens back in Congress.”
The gateway town of Tusayan and the partner services provided by the Grand Canyon National Park have committed to remaining open, including lodging, food, beverages, and retail. Services, campsites, and trails will be open at the Grand Canyon National Park.
Arizona State Parks and Trails faces no closures and has parks with cabins, campsites and hiking trails as well as thousands of miles of trails throughout the state. According to Ducey's office, Slide Rock State Park, Fort Verde State Historic Park, Jerome State Historic Park, Dead Horse Ranch State Park and Red Rock State Park will stay open in the Verde Valley.
For information about all Arizona State Parks and Natural Areas, the Trails and Off-Highway Vehicle Programs and State Historic Preservation Office call 1-877-MY-PARKS or visit AZStateParks.com.