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Tobin: Federal rejection of Grand Canyon plan 'absurd'

PHOENIX -- The closure of the Grand Canyon National Park is hammering the economies of Tusayan, Page, Williams and others that rely on tourism as their lifeblood.

Arizona House Speaker Andy Tobin said the state -- along with private donations -- could foot the $500,000 cost that it would take to reopen the canyon through the month of October but the federal government won't consider it.

"We'd like to step in and get the Grand Canyon reopened. This is critical to Arizona's economy and they're refusing to take private or public dollars."

Tobin also lashed out at Senate Democrats and President Barack Obama.

"They're more interested in keeping Obamacare than opening up our parks," he said. "The message is loud and clear and I can't understand how they can do this to a state. I mean really? For one year we can't get a reprieve from Obamacare? They're holding our state hostage."

Tobin said the impact of the closure isn't limited to the communities surrounding the Grand Canyon. It has a ripple effect that could seriously dent Arizona's economy just when it is coming back strong from the recession.

"People don't just go to the Grand Canyon, they come to the Valley and other parts of the state," he said. "I'm very nervous about this and I'd be lying if I said I wasn't. I live in rural Arizona and tourism is huge. I couldn't be more disgusted. It's one punch after another when it comes to Washington, D.C."

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About the Author

Position: Senior News Reporter. Started with KTAR July 4, 1999.

Favorite food: Steak and shrimp, and any food on campouts.

Favorite spots in Arizona: Pinetop-Lakeside, Alpine, Greer.

Favorite news memory: The Wallow Fire in 2011 became the largest fire in state history. Rodeo-Chediski Fire in June 2002, which is the second largest fire in Arizona. The 2007 Southern California Firestorm and being at Sky Harbor Airport when the first plane lifted off several days after 9-11. Seeing the American flag on the tail of the Salt Lake City-bound Delta airliner as it took off still gives me goosebumps.

Favorite movies: True Grit, both 1969 John Wayne classic and the remake with Jeff Bridges -- which was outstanding --, Lonesome Dove.

First job: Spinning records at KLER Radio Orofino, Idaho 1980.

First concert: KISS/Cheap Trick 1977 Spokane, WA Coliseum.

Sports Teams: Washington State University Cougars, The University of Montana Grizzlies and Texas Rangers.

Outside interests: Sports, camping, fishing, traveling.


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