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Press Releases

Agreement Reached to Open Great Smoky Mtn Nat’l Park

Press release from the Office of Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam; October 15, 2013:

NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam today announced an agreement to reopen the Great Smoky Mountains National Park (GSMNP) with all normal operations from Wednesday, October 16 through Sunday, October 20.

“The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is America’s most visited national park, and for the Smokies and the people around it, the month of October is the most important time of the year,” Haslam said. “I remain hopeful that an end to the federal government shutdown will come this week.”

The national park costs $60,100 to operate per day, according to the National Park Service (NPS). Sevier County has sent $300,500 to NPS to open the park for five days.

The state is paying 80 percent of the cost in the form of a $240,400 tourism grant to Sevier County with Sevier and Blount counties funding the remaining $60,100 to fully fund operation of the park for five days.

An NPS report found that the 9.6 million visitors to GSMNP during 2012 had an economic impact of $818 million in communities surrounding the park in Tennessee and North Carolina.

Haslam has worked with North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory, who has expressed a willingness to assist financially with the reopening.

“I appreciate the cooperation and support of Governor McCrory and the state of North Carolina,” Haslam said. “Together, we’ve been able to reopen the nation’s most-visited park during a key month for tourism in Tennessee.”

The park will open at 12 a.m. EDT on Wednesday, October 16 and stay open until 11:59 p.m. EDT on Sunday, October 20 if the shutdown is not ended in that time.

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Press Releases

US House to Hold Hearings on Nat’l Park & Monument Shutdowns

Press release from the U.S. House Committee on Oversight & Government Reform; October 9, 2013:

WASHINGTON, D.C. – On Wednesday, October 16th, House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., and House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Doc Hastings, R-Wash., will convene a joint hearing entitled, “As Difficult As Possible: The National Park Service’s Implementation of the Government Shutdown.”

The hearing will examine the National Park Service’s decision to barricade open-air memorials on the National Mall, which are normally open to the public 24 hours a day, during the current lapse in appropriations. The decision prohibited access to veterans and visitors and is unprecedented in previous shutdowns.

“The National Park Service’s decision to barricade the normally unattended open air memorials on the National Mall, including the World War II Memorial, is only one example of the many drastic and unprecedented steps the Park Service has taken during the current lapse in appropriations,” said Chairman Issa. “Their actions suggest a pattern of decision making based on politics rather than prudence. During sequestration and the current government shutdown, Park Service officials reportedly instructed employees to make fiscal cuts both visible and painful. Caught in the crossfire are innocent Americans – veterans and small business owners – who have a right to expect that even during tough financial situations, government officials are still acting as trustworthy stewards of their tax dollars.”

“Across the country, Americans are deliberately being denied access to open-air memorials and national parks – places that are open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year,” stated Chairman Hastings. “These are sites that were not closed by the Clinton Administration during the last government shutdown. However, the Obama Administration appears determined to make their shutdown as difficult and painful as possible. They are forcing private businesses to close and are selectively choosing which high-profile sites to close off and which to keep open. One park ranger even said that they were directed to ‘make life as difficult for people as we can.’ This is shameful and wrong and we intend to hold the Obama Administration accountable for their actions.”

Hearing Details:

Wednesday, October 16th

“Joint Hearing: As Difficult As Possible: The National Park Service’s Implementation of the Government Shutdown”

House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, Chairman Darrell Issa, and House Committee on Natural Resources, Chairman Doc Hastings (R-WA)

9:30 a.m. in House Visitors Center 210 and streaming online at oversight.house.gov