WASHINGTON COUNTY — The country is now one week into the government shutdown, which has closed all of Utah’s national parks. However, Monday night, some Utah counties began fighting to ignore the shutdown and take control of the parks.
The Washington County Board of Commissioners unanimously passed a proclamation declaring a local emergency Monday due to the “economic disruptions arising from the closure of Zion National Park and federally managed campgrounds.”
The proclamation was made following a Monday morning meeting of commissioners from Washington, Kane, San Juan, Garfield, Sevier, Grand, Iron, Wayne and Piute Counties, along with Supervisors from Coconino and Mohave Counties in Arizona.
According to Washington County Commissioner Alan Gardner, at least six counties have petitioned Gov. Herbert to declare a Local State of Emergency due to the economic impact created by the shutdown.
The Washington County Board of Commissioners then met early Monday afternoon and passed the proclamation. Click here to read it. Along with Washington County, Iron, Kane, Grand, Piute and Garfield Counties filed separate resolutions declaring a state of emergency.
Iron County Commissioner Dave Miller called the closures “a stunt by clowns in the White House and is nothing less than an exercise in abuse of power.”
Town officials in the community of Springdale said their area is a gateway to Zion National Park and has seen little traffic in the last week.
“To drive down the streets of Springdale is really surreal because it feels like the offseason,” said Springdale’s Mayor pro-tem, Kathy LaFave.
LaFave pointed out that local businesses, such as restaurants and hotels, won’t recapture the sales they have lost amidst the shutdown.
“Those are people, who this time of year, really look to October and into November to save money to get through the winter months when we have no tourism,” LaFave said. “My message to the Governor’s office, to our state representatives, to the people in Washington, is you were not elected to do this, not this.”
Nate McDonald at the Governor’s Office said they received the proclamations from the counties this afternoon and those resolutions are under review.
Gov. Gary Herbert has had no reaction to the proclamations as of Monday evening.
According to Washington County’s proclamation, more than 75 percent of the land in Washington County is managed by the federal government and the closure of Zion National Park and other federally managed attractions and facilities has had a “devastating impact” on county residents who rely on visitors.
The proclamation also says “this severe and direct impact has an indirect impact on the rest of the economy in Washington County because of the lack of spending by those residents directly impacted by the lack of tourists.”