Las Vegas Sun

November 29, 2014

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Sandoval won’t use state money to open national parks

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Sam Morris

The National Parks Service facilities in Red Rock Canyon are now closed due to the government shutdown.

Gov. Brian Sandoval won't follow suit with Utah and three other states that are seeking to reopen national parks with state funds as the federal government shutdown heads into Day 11.

Sandoval's spokeswoman Mary-Sarah Kinner said today that Nevada doesn't have the resources to open federal parks such as Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area.

"As the governor has said in previous statements, Nevada is already making critical funding decisions on programs such as food stamps, unemployment insurance, programs for women, infants and children, and dozens of others," Kinner told the Sun. "These are critical programs that hundreds of thousands of Nevadans rely upon every day. With so many Nevadans facing real consequences, the state simply cannot afford to reopen federal parks at this time."

In an emergency cabinet meeting earlier this week, senior state officials told Sandoval the state is on the brink of ending such programs as food stamps and unemployment benefits because of the partial federal government shutdown. Food stamp recipients won't receive benefits starting Nov. 1, if the shutdown persists. And while money is available to pay unemployment benefits, the state is almost out of money to pay state workers who process those claims.

Other states, citing the economic blow dealt by the closures, are trying to re-open their national parks. According to the AP, Utah Gov. Gary Herbert has said his state has resources that could be used to operate the parks if federal funding is not available. Governors of South Dakota, Arizona and Colorado have made similar requests.

Hundreds of people have lined up outside Red Rock Canyon just outside of Las Vegas since Oct. 1, when the federal government closed the gates on the park due to the shutdown. Some park-goers have been cited, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

But it's not all grim news in Nevada, though. Park-goers still can visit Nevada's parks, Kinner said.

"Nevada state parks, however, are open and experiencing record visitation," she said.

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