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The federal government shutdown ended in a whimper Wednesday, Oct. 16, as Republicans and Democrats in Congress finally settled on a deal to reopen the government, which had been closed for 16 days. Federal workers, including many working on federal lands around Sedona, will now be returning to work.

In the midst of the shutdown last week, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell and Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer negotiated a deal to temporarily reopen Grand Canyon National Park using state money. Under the deal, the state paid the National Park Service $93,000 per day to keep the park open.In the midst of the shutdown last week, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell and Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer negotiated a deal to temporarily reopen Grand Canyon National Park using state money.

Managing Editor Christopher Fox GrahamUnder the deal, the state paid the National Park Service $93,000 per day to keep the park open.

U.S. Sens. John McCain [R-Arizona] and Jeff Flake [R-Arizona] issued a joint statement Saturday, Oct. 12, applauding the deal while aiming their ire at dysfunction in Washington, D.C.

U.S. Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick [D-District 1], whose district includes the Grand Canyon, Sedona and Camp Verde, also issued a statement Oct. 11, thanking Jewell and Brewer for reaching a deal. Kirkpatrick also thanked her one-time rival, U.S. Rep. Paul Gosar [R-District 4], for authoring legislation to reimburse states for the costs they will incur for opening national parks with their own funds. Whether Congress will approve the bill and refund Arizona taxpayers is anyone’s guess.

Jewell and the state of Utah negotiated a similar deal to reopen Lake Powell, which is also a huge draw for tourists coming to Northern Arizona.

Sedona and the Verde Valley benefit from American and international tourists heading to these federal lands. With the parks closed, we noticed many of the hotels, motels and resorts in Sedona and the Verde Valley were booked up and our restaurants were filled with visitors looking for something else to do. Fortunately, the Sedona area is like a national park itself.

Sedona and other cities and towns in the Verde Valley survive both directly and indirectly on visitors. Most of our other services — construction contractors, grocery stores, medical services — exist to support residents who live here thanks to our robust tourism industry. In Arizona, public access to national parks and U.S. Forest Service lands is essential to our economic survival.

When the Founding Fathers drew up the Constitution, they gave the purse strings for federal services to Congress. They expected healthy debate over what federal programs and services to fund. Little did they expect mere debate would cause the government to cease functioning.

Arizona taxpayers shouldn’t have to fork over our hard-earned tax revenues when our members of Congress refuse to pay the bills.

Christopher Fox Graham

Managing Editor


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