Hickenlooper working to reopen Rocky Mountain National Park with state funds

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Rocky Mountain National Park

DENVER — Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper is working to reopen Rocky National Park after the Obama administration said Thursday it will allow states to use their own money to reopen some national parks that have been closed because of the government shutdown.

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said the government will consider offers to pay for park operations, but will not surrender control of national parks to the states, the Associated Press reported.

The governors of South Dakota, Arizona and Colorado have each asked for authority to reopen national parks within their borders because of the economic impacts caused by the park closures. October is a key tourist month in many states.

At Mt. Rushmore, federal officials put traffic cones up at a pull-off where people stop to view the carving from a distance. Depending on whom you ask, the cones were either to block motorists from pulling off or to guide them into viewing areas.

“They won’t even let you pull off on the side of the road,” the Argus Leader newspaper in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, quoted state Tourism Department Secretary Jim Hagen as saying. “I just don’t know what they’re trying to accomplish.”

The newspaper said park officials told the state the cones were meant only to channel motorists into viewing sites. They went up October 1, the day the shutdown began.

Federal officials removed the cones for at least a while after a snowstorm hit and crews needed to plow the roads, the newspaper reported.

Meanwhile, the area around the Grand Canyon is a ghost town. It’s no different inside, and park rangers are working to keep it that way, according to The Republic newspaper in Arizona.

Park officials have written about two dozen citations for people trying to sneak into the park. Some have been caught at the canyon’s South Rim, others on trails or attempting hikes, the newspaper reported.

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