House panel to revisit shut down national parks

The House Natural Resources Committee will consider a bill next week that would require the government to reimburse states for all funds spent on national park operations during the 16-day government shutdown.

Rep. Steve Daines's (R-Mont.) bill mandates that the costs be repaid no more than 90 days after federal appropriations became available again.

Montana did not reopen its parks during the shutdown, but Utah, Arizona, South Dakota and Colorado did.

The panel will consider Daines's bill at a hearing that will also discuss a measure from Rep. Chris Stewart (R-Utah) to prevent national park closures during any future shutdown.

The bill, titled the Provide Access and Retain Continuity Act, H.R. 3311, would allow states to fund and keep operations running at parks and other federal facilities or programs that directly affect tourism, mining, timber, or transportation.

Republicans ripped the Obama administration for closing national parks and monuments during the shutdown, arguing the White House was seeking to inflict more pain on people through the closures. The GOP attacked the administration for creating a hostile atmosphere at the parks and barricading monument sites along the National Mall.

On Wednesday, the Arizona congressional delegation sent a letter to National Park Service Director Jonathan Jarvis requesting a refund for expenses paid by the state to reopen one park.

It cost Arizona $465,000 to reopen Grand Canyon National Park.