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Utah pays up to reopen national parks Saturday

Bryce Canyon National Park (Facebook Photo)

PHOENIX -- For the first time since the federal government's partial shutdown began nearly two weeks ago, water sports enthusiast could be back on Utah's Lake Powell this weekend.

Utah is in the process of reopening five national parks using state money, after the government announced states could reopen their nationals parks if they came up with the funds.

Arizona officials were set to speak with Interior Department staff Friday about a plan to reopen the Grand Canyon National Park, but the state is balking at paying for a full reopening at a cost of $112,000 a day, said a spokesman for Republican Gov. Jan Brewer.

Arches, Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, and Zion will be open in Utah by Saturday. Three other locations that will be opened are Natural Bridges and Cedar Breaks national monuments, as well as Glen Canyon National Recreation Area.

Antelope Point Marina is reopening Friday at noon and Lake Powell Marina is trying to get ready for Saturday.

Ally Isom, deputy chief of staff for Utah Gov. Gary Herbert, said Friday the office has wired $1.67 million to the federal government.

"By tomorrow major parks in the state of Utah are back in business. Then our congressional delegation will work to get the state reimbursed. The parks put staff on alert last night that this was coming and the gates are being unlocked," Isom said.

Utah's national parks pump $100 million into the economy each October.

"You don't make up October in January, it's now. We're trying to restore a sense of economic stability to the communities hurt by the government shutdown," Isom said.

The reopening of the parks is good news for Page, Ariz., which is the gateway to that area. The community has taken a financial hit since the shutdown.

Associated Press contributed to this article.

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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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