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Arizona strikes deal to keep Grand Canyon open


December 18, 1995
Web posted at: 11:55 p.m. EST

PHOENIX, Arizona (CNN) -- Arizona Governor Fife Symington announced Monday that his state and the U.S. Department of the Interior reached an agreement to keep the Grand Canyon open despite the federal government's partial shutdown.

Negotiations for the unprecedented agreement began when canyon operations ceased for the first time in the history of the park during the November federal government shutdown, according to a press statement from Symington's office.

"This historic agreement is a testament to government working together for public benefit," Symington said in the statement. "Through our work today, citizens from all over the world can be assured that the crown jewel of our National Park System will always remain open."

Under the agreement, the National Park Service will keep Mather Point and the Grand Canyon Village area open to visitors during the budget shutdown and will allow concessionaires to continue operating.

In turn, Arizona will make a donation to the National Park Service to pay the personnel and other costs needed to operate these areas of the park.

The donation will be $17,625 per day, to be paid in advance of each day's operation of the Park during a shutdown. Arizona also agreed not to hold the United States responsible for personal injury and property claims during its operation of the park.


Symington said the funding for the agreement will come through the Arizona State Parks Board. The board Friday voted to use up to $211,500 of its appropriated funds for this purpose -- a sufficient amount to cover a 12-day period of park operation under the agreement. The board also voted to accept a donation of $52,875 from John F. Long, a Phoenix developer and philanthropist, to help fund this effort.

In California, the Joshua Tree National Monument closed most of its park and wilderness area Friday. One road remained open for transportation purposes only.

"People cannot stop. They will be able to just drive through," park spokesman Joe Zarki said.

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