Viewpoint: States' choices to fund national parks is the best option

We’ve talked before on our opinion of the government shutdown’s effect on national parks, but this weekend is a time for good news. Contrary to the aforementioned previous Viewpoint, we here at The Signpost will no longer be breaking into one of our state’s many national parks. Utah, among several other states like Colorado, has paid the federal government to get its tourist magnets back up and running, if only for a few days at a time. And while we support our state government’s choice, we understand it’s a potential gamble that might hurt us elsewhere.

Running those parks is expensive, and each state participating in this is doing so with its own money. Additionally, the states were told they likely won’t get reimbursed. Each park and monument can run upward of tens of thousands of dollars to run per day, and many states can only afford to fund the parks for about a week or so, just long enough, many hope, for the federal government to pull its act together and learn to compromise. The time limit is a gamble in and of itself. It’s highly doubtful the states will have the money to continue past the weeklong limit.

Politics often deals with money in terms of millions and billions, but the amounts being spent by states to boost their own economies is no small matter. With the federal government in lockdown, our debt default deadline rushing closer and our debt amount increasing every hour, there isn’t a lot of funding to go around. That’s something that will affect everyone, regardless of if we work for the government or private companies.

Many of our friends, family and fellow Wildcats are feeling the financial impact of the shutdown deep in our bank accounts and wallets after being furloughed or charged higher prices as a result of others being furloughed. But it’s at least good news that there are some people out there, like store owners in the towns surrounding the national parks, who will be getting some financial relief in the form of the reinstated tourist industry. Without these funds, these small towns and businesses will likely face financial peril this year. This month is just about the last chance for many people to get into the national parks before the temperature drops to extremes and the snow starts falling regularly. While Utah might not get back the funds spent to open the parks from the federal government, it’s better than tanking our state economy.

However, numerous other organizations and services are suffering from the shutdown’s financial blow. While both the federal and state governments are attempting to pass temporary measures like the state park funds to keep them going on a limited scale, there’s no telling how badly the lack of funding will affect these services. And us. Some of these services include funding routine food safety inspections to make sure the stuff you’re buying at the supermarket won’t potentially send you and your family to the hospital with salmonella. Other preventative services currently running on skeleton crews include those scrambling to prepare towns and cities for potential flooding or other natural disasters. Still other services under the shutdown’s hold include cancer treatment centers and food stamp services.

All these services, many of which are entirely or partially federally funded, desperately need that funding, and it’s a tough and unfair choice for local lawmakers to have to decide which ones will get a share of the little extra and emergency funding the states have. Maybe it’s best for the states to hold on to their funding. After all, we don’t know how long this shutdown will take, and if we keep draining our emergency funds, we might be setting ourselves up for a future disaster. Or maybe, as we think, the states are doing exactly what they should be doing: assessing which parts of the situation will have the greatest effect on our state’s wellbeing and trying to help the best they can.