10-11-2013 08:48 PM

Colorado will pay to reopen Rocky Mountain National Park

Pear Lake, in the Wild Basin backcountry area of Rocky Mountain National Park.

Rocky Mountain National Park will reopen tomorrow, courtesy of Colorado taxpayers.
The park, one of Colorado's biggest tourist attractions, has been closed since the first of the month as part of the partial federal shutdown, costing the state millions of dollars in lost tourism spending. Hundreds of other national parks and monuments nationwide have also been closed, including several in Colorado.
Gov. John Hickenlooper and the U.S. Department of Interior announced Friday that the park will reopen at a cost to the state of $40,300 per day to pay the salaries of National Park Service employees who operate the preserve.
Trail Ridge Road, which goes through the park, also will be reopened at state expense as soon as the highway can be plowed to help with ongoing flood recovery efforts in Estes Park and Larimer County, according to the governor’s office.
Money to reopen the park will come from the Colorado Tourism Office, which will seek reimbursement from the federal government, according to the announcement.
“This reopening is critical to ongoing recovery efforts after last month’s flooding,” Hickenlooper said in the announcement.
“Trail Ridge Road provides a vital access point to Estes Park. Plus, the reopening of the park will help businesses in the area that have suffered a one-two punch after the flooding and federal government shutdown,” he said.
Fees to access Rocky Mountain National Park will be collected and the park will be on normal operating hours.
Rocky Mountain National Park drew 3,229,617 visitors in 2012, fifth among all U.S. national parks in total visitors.

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Cathy Proctor covers energy, the environment, transportation and construction for the Denver Business Journal and edits the weekly "Energy Inc." newsletter. Phone: 303-803-9233. Subscribe to the Energy Inc. newsletter

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