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Some national parks including Grand Canyon, Statue of Liberty to reopen with state funds

Nearly a dozen national parks including Mount Rushmore, the Grand Canyon and Rocky Mountain National Park will reopen as early as Saturday, paid for with state funds.

Statue of liberty reopenEnlarge
Nearly a dozen national parks including the State of Liberty, the Grand Canyon and Mount Rushmore will reopen after states agreed to pick up the tab. (SPENCER PLATT/AFP/Getty Images)

Local economies are breathing a sigh of relief as the Interior Department agreed to allow several states to reopen nearly a dozen national parks that have remained closed since the start of the government shutdown.

So far, the governors of Utah, Arizona, Colorado, South Dakota and New York agreed to foot the bill to reopen the iconic national parks with a mixture of state funds and private donations.

More than 20,000 National Park Service employees who maintain and secure the facilities have been on furlough since the government shut down on Oct 1.

Most of nation's 401 National Park Service sites remain closed —not only ruining vacations but severely damaging local economies.

Utah Gov. Gary Herbert wired $1.67 million to Washington for 10 days of operation at eight national parks: Arches, Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef and Zion national parks, along with Glen Canyon National Recreation Area and the Cedar Breaks and Natural Bridges national monuments.

"Utah's national parks are the backbone of many rural economies, and hardworking Utahns are paying a heavy price for this shutdown," Herbert said.

October is a bad time for the state's national parks to stay closed. According to state officials, tourism brings in $100 million in revenue in October from foreign visitors, the Columbus Day holiday and families packing into the parks on fall break.

"The key is you can't make up what you lose in October," Herbert told Salt Lake City television station KUTV on Friday.

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In South Dakota, visitors to the iconic Mount Rushmore will be welcomed back beginning on Monday.

Gov. Dennis Daugaard reached a deal with several corporate donors to give the National Park Service $15,200 a day to keep the Black Hills monument open.

New York also struck a deal on Friday to reopen the Statue of Liberty by paying $61,600 a day out of the state's tourism budget.

"Every day that Liberty Island is closed means we are losing visitors who would otherwise be spending at our local businesses," Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a statement.

"Not to mention the employees who maintain the park and have been forced out of work."

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell called the agreement a "practical and temporary solution."

"We want to reopen all of our national parks as quickly possible for everyone to enjoy and call on Congress to pass a clean continuing resolution to open the government," Jewell said.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/americas/united-states/131012/some-national-parks-including-grand-canyon-statu