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No Plans to Reopen Wash. National Parks with State Funds

Elaine Thompson
AP Photo
File image of Mount Rainier.

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.

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." Prior to joining the Northwest News Network, Austin worked as a television reporter in Seattle, Portland and Boise. Austin is a graduate of Garfield High School in Seattle and Connecticut College in New London, Connecticut. Austin’s reporting has been recognized with awards from the Association of Capitol Reporters and Editors, Public Radio News Directors Incorporated and the Society of Professional Journalists.