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Updated Oct 7, 2013 - 2:22 pm

Fees refunded for Colorado River permit holders

GRAND CANYON NATIONAL PARK, Ariz. -- River permit holders denied their scheduled launch because of the government shutdown at Grand Canyon National Park will receive a refund for fees, National Park Service officials announced Monday.

Grand Canyon National Park is shut down for only the second time since it was created in 1919.

Permit holders also will be entitled to reschedule for a Colorado River trip with their choice of dates until 2016. However, they must submit their choices within 60 days of the park's reopening.

No more than three launches will be permitted in a day and the new trip must adhere to the trip length of the chosen season.

Commercial river companies that have scheduled launches during the government shutdown will be able to carry over lost user days in the 2014 season.

Twenty-one private river launches and six commercial launches were scheduled in the first two weeks in October.

Park Superintendent Dave Uberuaga said details will be sent to each river permit holder outlining the options in the plan and any priority each may have.

Getting a permit for a river trip isn't easy. The Park Service conducts the lottery every February for launch dates the following year. The lottery system replaced a waiting list in 2006.

Of the 449 launch opportunities for private boaters in 2013, nearly 3,630 applications were submitted. Additional trips were reserved for those who transitioned from the waiting list, which is down to 3,000 from 7,300.

About a quarter of applicants for private trips are from Colorado, followed by California, Arizona and Utah.

Commercial trips can cost more than $3,000 a person, but the pricing depends on the season, the length of the trip and other things. The nearly 600 launch opportunities are allocated to businesses that contract with the Park Service and can include up to 32 people.

Private trips can last up to 25 days and have up to 16 passengers. Participation in either trip is limited to once a year.

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