Smoky Mountain News
National Park Service Announces Agreement to Reopen Smokies
The National Park Service announced that it has entered into an agreement with the State of Tennessee that will allow Great Smoky Mountains National Park to temporarily reopen on Wednesday, October 16, after being closed for 15 days due to the partial government shutdown. The park will begin opening facilities at 8:00 a.m.
The state of Tennessee, working in partnership with Blount and Sevier counties, is donating funds to the National Park Service for the sole purpose of enabling National Park Service employees to reopen and manage Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The agreement funds the park for a period of 5 days, running from October 16 through October 21 at the donated amount of $300,500.
Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam has also been working with North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory to reopen the park which lies in both states. The state of North Carolina has expressed interest in providing financial support for the reopening.
“We are grateful that our Blount and Sevier county neighbors and the states of Tennessee and North Carolina have offered to support reopening the park,” said Park Superintendent Dale Ditmanson. “We are anxious to welcome the public back into the park to enjoy the changing fall colors.”
Due to the lack of appropriations from Congress, the Department of the Interior was forced to close all national parks across the country and furlough more than 20,000 National Park Service employees who ensure the safety of visitors and the security of the resources.
Responding to the economic impacts that the park closures are having on many communities and local businesses, Secretary of the Interior Jewell announced last week that she would consider agreements with Governors who indicate an interest and ability to fully fund National Park Service personnel to re-open national parks in their states.
“This is a practical and temporary solution that will lessen the pain for some businesses and communities in Tennessee during this shutdown,” said Secretary Sally Jewell. “We want to re-open all of our national parks as quickly possible for everyone to enjoy and call on Congress to pass a clean continuing resolution to open the government.”