No Plans to Reopen Wash. National Parks with State Funds

Oct 11, 2013

Gov. Jay Insee says he has 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 its 11th day and beyond.

Utah immediately took the president up on his offer. A $1.5 million check to the Federal Treasury allows the Beehive state to reopen several economically-important national parks and monuments. But here in Washington, tourist magnets like Mount Rainier remain closed.  

“There are no state resources for opening federal parks at this time,” said Inslee’s office in an email. The news is a disappointment for Kimberly Tkach, who manages the Gateway Inn at the Nisqually entrance to Mount Rainier.

“That really makes me mad. 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.

Tkach says she has 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 said most of her ire is reserved for Congress, not state officials.

Governors in Oregon and Idaho have also opted not to use state funds to reopen national parks in their states.

A spokesman for Idaho Gov. Butch Otter says the office is monitoring the impacts of park and monument closures, including Yellowstone in neighboring Wyoming, but doesn’t currently see a need to spend state dollars to reopen federal assets.