Utah County: We'll Take Over National Parks

Struggling San Juan County to take down barricades to bring back tourists
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 10, 2013 9:42 AM CDT
This June 21, 2013 photo shows boaters on Lake Powell.   (AP Photo/Deseret News, Jeffrey D. Allred)

(Newser) – A southern Utah county isn't taking the government shutdown lying down: It's threatening to reopen its national parks to breathe life back into the area's struggling economy, the Salt Lake Tribune reports. With help from firefighters, EMTs, and search and rescue volunteers, San Juan County—where 70% of businesses rely on visitors to parks, monuments, and public lands—says it will remove barricades, bring in staff, public toilets, and other resources to operate. "How do we let local businesses starve to death?" the fire marshal asked. One wrinkle: The move is against the law.

It will be "civil disobedience" done peacefully, the county commissioner says. "We’re watching one of our prime months fade away from us," he says. "It’s really painful. What's happening to us is wrong." Though the costs of the operation haven't been tallied up, the county, the fifth in Utah to declare a state of emergency due to closures, has appealed to the state for funding, NPR reports, adding that barricades could be down as early as today. It's not clear how the feds will respond, but these trespassers at national parks are now headed to court. (Read more national park stories.)

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