Colorado became the second state in as many days to reach an agreement with the U.S. Department of Interior to open national park. Gov. John Hickenlooper said the state reached an agreement to pay for the reopening of Rocky Mountain National Park starting Saturday.
The governor's office said Trail Ridge Road will also reopen as soon as the highway can be plowed to help with ongoing flood recovery efforts in Estes Park and Larimer County. The state will pay for the park to stay open as long as the federal government is shut down. It will cost $40,300 a day to pay for U.S. National Park Service employees to operate the park. Utah reopened five national parks and three other federal recreation sites Saturday after Gov. Gary Herbert negotatied a similar deal.
“This reopening is critical to ongoing recovery efforts after last month’s flooding,” Hickenlooper said. “Trail Ridge Road provides a vital access point to Estes Park. Plus, the reopening of the park will help businesses in the area that have suffered a one-two punch after the flooding and federal government shutdown.”
U.S. Sens. Mark Udall and Michael Bennet and Congressional members from Colorado played important roles in helping to reopen the park.
“We greatly appreciate all of the hard work by our Congressional delegation and the Department of the Interior to help make this happen,” Hickenlooper said.
“The flood impact has been difficult for our residents and businesses and the closure of Rocky Mountain National Park was a huge economic blow just as we were pulling together toward recovery,” said Estes Park Mayor Bill Pinkham. “We greatly appreciate the efforts of the Governor and our Congressional delegation who helped make this happen. This is a pivotal step in Estes Park’s quick and full recovery from this unprecedented disaster.”
The state will initially use money from the Colorado Tourism Office to operate the park and will seek reimbursement from the federal government. Fees will still be charged and collected and the park will be on normal operating hours.