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10/17/2013 11:23:00 AM
Committee jousts over closing of Grand Canyon
Tusayan Mayor Greg Bryan said the closure of Grand Canyon National Park has hit his town's economy and wondered why park service officials had not planned for a government shutdown in advance. (JACK FITZPATRICK/Cronkite News)
Tusayan Mayor Greg Bryan said the closure of Grand Canyon National Park has hit his town's economy and wondered why park service officials had not planned for a government shutdown in advance. (JACK FITZPATRICK/Cronkite News)
Jack Fitzpatrick
Cronkite News

WASHINGTON - Tusayan Mayor Greg Bryan told House lawmakers Wednesday that closing Grand Canyon National Park has devastated his town's economy and he criticized federal government officials for not acting sooner to reopen it.

Bryan said that even if the Grand Canyon had to be closed, the park service could have used the last government shutdown - in 1995, when Arizona paid to partly reopen the park - as a template for opening the park more quickly this time.

"That application of that policy could have been easily put into place," Bryan said of the 1995 shutdown. "We don't understand why it wasn't."

His testimony came during a contentious, five-hour congressional hearing in which two House committees asked if the Obama administration made the shutdown "as painful as possible" to make political points - a contention derided as "nonsensical" by committee Democrats.

The Grand Canyon was one of the most high-profile of the 401 national parks and monuments that closed on Oct. 1 when the federal government shut down because Congress failed to agree on a budget for fiscal 2014.

On Oct. 12, Arizona reached a deal with the Interior Department to use state funds to reopen Grand Canyon National Park at a cost of $93,000 per day. Gov. Jan Brewer said Wednesday that the state could continue to fund park operations through Oct. 27, if necessary, although Congress reached a deal to reopen government Thursday.

Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Prescott, said at Wednesday's hearing that the park service needlessly waited to start negotiating with Arizona to reopen Grand Canyon National Park, calling it part of the administration's attempts to make the shutdown politically costly.

"For 10 days, the park service refused - refused - to work with our local governments and businesses to keep these important economic drivers operating," Gosar said.

Bryan said Tusayan, a small town near the Grand Canyon whose economy is based almost entirely on tourism, has seen hotel occupancy rates fall from about 90 percent to about 40 percent during the shutdown.

But National Park Service Director Jonathan Jarvis defended the closure of the Grand Canyon and other national properties during the government shutdown, testifying that the parks had to be shut down to comply with federal law. That law blocks the government from performing functions for which money has not been appropriated, he said.

Jarvis said the park service can only use funds in a shutdown situation to protect life and property, adding that he immediately began looking for ways to reopen the closed parks using state or private funds.

Gosar and other Republicans asked why, if the park service had immediately begun looking to reopen parks, it took 10 days to reopen a high-profile property like Grand Canyon National Park.

Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., noting Jarvis' claim that park closures were necessary to protect life and property, sarcastically said the Grand Canyon might have been attacked if it had not been closed during the shutdown.

"And we all know that terrorists are going to go in and blow up the Grand Canyon, too," Issa said. "So the fact that you overlooked the Grand Canyon is not credible."

Issa said Jarvis "asserted pain on people" by stalling to reopen parks to prove a point that he could "punish the American people by shutting down and taking away assets they cared about."

Democrats criticized Republicans for their accusatory tone in the hearing, which they called a distraction from the larger issue of the federal government shutdown. Rep. Raul Grijalva, D-Tucson, said Republicans were using Jarvis as a scapegoat.

Rep. Carol Shea-Porter, D-N.H., said she considered walking out of the hearing due to the lack of civility, and Rep. Jared Huffman, D-Calif., said it was a "sham of a hearing" that made "the McCarthy era look like the Enlightenment."

Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., criticized Republicans members of the House Natural Resources Committee and Oversight and Government Reform Committee for questioning why national parks would be closed during a federal government shutdown caused by Congress.

"Instead of trying to prevent economic hardship and potential financial disaster, we're having a hearing that is at best nonsensical," DeFazio said.

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Reader Comments

Posted: Friday, October 18, 2013
Article comment by: J J

"Not only were the signs already made up, they had welded and made the barriers ahead of time..."

You do know there are companies in the US that manufacture barricades and sell them to govt and private business, right? Why make your own when someone else is an expert at it? Some guy wasn't sitting in a secret govt building creating a jig, bending steel, welding, fabricating and then powder coating thousands of barriers. The workload would have been unbearable and the time to create them would have been months. Come on. The govt buys and owns these things and uses them from time to time. You don't go to a dentist to get your hair done do you?


Posted: Friday, October 18, 2013
Article comment by: Anson's Nephew

“Not only were the signs already made up, they had welded and made the barriers ahead of time, used heavy equipment to transport them to various parks/monuments.”

So-called “low-info (delete) people always show up and make themselves look foolish. The above is the latest example with a couple of recent others being the “surprise” that snipers are stationed on top of the White House and the fact the government has a stockpile of caskets.

In this case the individual is stunned by the fact the government has signs and barricades on hand. Of course they do. These items are necessary in the event of having to close a facility for any number of reasons. The quickly printed “government shutdown” signs were prepared when it was obvious the Republiscums were actually going to do one of the stupidest things in the past fifty years and cost us $24 billion in the process.

“Twenty joggers jogging by a closed down park were detained, fined $100 each…”

Nope, did not happen. Again, where do you get this trash?


Posted: Friday, October 18, 2013
Article comment by: Origional Kingman Resident

"This was a Republican shut down. They threatened to do it and they did it and then when they did it they blamed the other side for doing it."

Wrong. The House has the job of appropriating funds for the various programs each year. It is not an all or nothing game. The separation of powers does ensures that the executive branch does not get to demand unless amounts of money.

The House sent 11 bills to the Senate appropriating money for the programs that the Executive branch was using as examples of how devastating the shut down was. The Democratically controlled Senate opted not to vote on those bills. That would put the ball in the Senate's court as far as keeping the government shut down.

Before you call other people "low information", you should assess your own information deficits.


Posted: Friday, October 18, 2013
Article comment by: The Fox Hound

Ok one time for the low info voters on the right. This was a Republican shut down. They threatened to do it and they did it and then when they did it they blamed the other side for doing it. Then they wanted to pick and choose what parts of govt. to keep open. Not the way it works folks. If you want to pick and choose what programs to cut you keep the govt open and you work it out like adults. The American public knows who caused the shut down and it will show in the next election. Just keep up the good work Mr Cruz you are doing a wonderful job for the Democrats. Thanks again.

Posted: Thursday, October 17, 2013
Article comment by: Linda Athens

Justanobody.

Not only were the signs already made up, they had welded and made the barriers ahead of time, used heavy equipment to transport them to various parks/monuments. Asked if Parks owned the equipment or rented it, Jarvis didn't know. This was PRE-PLANNED, intent to blame Republicans.

Jarvis had been asked numerous times prior to provide certain info to this oversight committee for it is this committee who keeps tabs on them. Jarvis totally ignored all their requests, thus Issa's surprise subpoena for Jarvis.

Pelosi had a rally for 20,000 illegals in this same closed down area last week. Had them open it for her, then close it when they left. Jarvis was asked where our rights come from, God, the Constitution, Government. He replied all three - was corrected. They come from our documents and God - NOT government.

Places closed were ridiculous. Some waterways, you could be on the water, couldn't touch the bank. Twenty joggers jogging by a closed down park were detained, fined $100 each which means a day off work for each to go to court as they refuse to pay it.

So many good Republican questions. Trey Gowdy is a gem.


Posted: Thursday, October 17, 2013
Article comment by: Anson's Nephew

“Republicans, often correcting the Dems w/they passed funding for everything including parks/memorials but not obamacare and the Senate refused to even vote on them...”

The ACA is the law, pure and simple and if the whining Republiscums do not like it there are proper ways to change it under our democracy and Constitution.

The Republiscums attempted to put through many, many bills after their shutting down the government and failed at every turn.

Why not look at some of the demands put forth by the Republliscums during the shutdown - Defund Obamacare - Delay Obamacare – Delay the Individual Mandate – Deny Health Care Coverage to the President – Deny Healthcare Coverage to the Cabinet – Deny Healthcare Coverage to Congressional Staffers – Approve the Keystone Pipeline – A Means-Testing for Medicare – Change Federal Employee Pensions – Expand Oil Drilling – Block Net Neutrality – Tort Reform – Weaken Regulations for Coal-fired Power Plants – Tax Code Changes – Thwart EPA Coal-ash Regulations – Repeal Medical Device Tax – Change Rules on Debt Ceiling.

And which of those did they get – NONE OF THEM!

Cost to the nation - $24 billion-plus for nothing!

But Canada (aka Rafael) Ted pocketed a million dollars plus.

w/c190




Posted: Thursday, October 17, 2013
Article comment by: justanobody sr

if this whole shut down wasn't pre planned.......
why did the parks have their "closed signs made up 3- 4 weeks in advance?
where was the money rerouted for the signs? ( reported to be quite expensive!)
if the "idea" to cause as much discomfort as possible wasn't their main goal. then why did they close parks that have NO manpower, or NO personnel onsite?
and I sure we all have heard about the people who had to leave their home in Lake Mead! (99 yr lease of fed land)
spin this so we can believe it


Posted: Thursday, October 17, 2013
Article comment by: Linda Athens

Watching this entire hearing deep into the night, every Democrat spent their time referring to the Republican shut down, then attacking the Republicans, sympathizing w/Park Head Jarvis who could never quite remember who, at the White House, he spoke with.

Republicans, often correcting the Dems w/they passed funding for everything including parks/memorials but not obamacare and the Senate refused to even vote on them, instead spent their time questioning those invited.

Jarvis had to be subpoened as he REFUSED TO APPEAR. Jarvis, over the past years, has even refused information requested so right there, Issa provided a subpoena for their records.

Peter DeFazio - D/Ore, shouting, was the nastiest I have yet seen.

Arguing their way thru all things shut down, tourists were threatened w/arrest for taking pictures of mountains from the road. Trey Gowdy pointed out, under same law, hundreds allowed to sleep, cook, soil, in city park for 100 days - only then Jarvis NEGOTIATED w/them. WWII Monument, by comparison was shut down on day one.

Libs presented a 1995 Lincoln Memorial pic w/barricades saying it was shut down. Fraudulent, it was for repairs. Issa wadded it up and threw it. 200wc




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