Oregon won’t pay to open parks

By Lauren Dake, WesCom News Service October 15, 2013 12:15 pm

SALEM — Absent a deal to reopen the federal government, national parks and monuments in Oregon will remain closed during the shutdown, now in its third week.

Oregon, unlike New York, Utah and Arizona, has no plans to dip into state funds to reopen its national sites. New York shelled out to reopen the Statue of Liberty; Arizona opened its wallet for the Grand Canyon; Utah pitched in for Bryce Canyon. That’s money that might not be reimbursed.

“Oregon does not have the resources to take on … additional federal responsibilities,” Tim Raphael, the governor’s spokesman, wrote in an email Monday. “We need the federal government to be reopened — and fully functional ASAP.”

Before heading to a federal site in Oregon, it’d be wise to call your destination.

At Lava Lands Visitor Center, for example, you’ll get a recording: “The visitor center is closed due to a lapse of government funding.”

Landmarks run by the national parks service, such as Oregon Caves National Monument, the John Day Fossil Beds, Fort Clatsop and Crater Lake National Park, are closed. U.S. Forest Service campgrounds are also closed.

But state campgrounds are open.

“If ... it’s on our website, it means it’s a state park, and it’s open,” said Chris Havel of the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department.

Unlike some states that are reopening national parks and monuments, Havel said, Oregon’s outdoor camping and tourism season is winding down, which softens the blow.

“I think part of it is (also) based on the belief that this will hopefully be a short-term interruption,” he said.