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Burns & Gambo

Updated Oct 17, 2013 - 2:09 pm

Arizona wants Grand Canyon funding money back

Tusayan Mayor Greg Bryan testified in Washington before House committees on Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2013. (Screenshot)

PHOENIX -- Gov. Jan Brewer's spokesman Andrew Wilder said Thursday that the state will ask the federal government to reimburse the more $450,000 the state spent to keep Grand Canyon National Park open during the shutdown.

The $1 million the state wired to feds Wednesday that would have been spent to keep the park open Oct. 20-27, will be refunded in full.

Arizona and the town of Tusayan sent the initial funding to keep the park open from last Saturday through Wednesday.

There's no guarantee Tusayan will see any of the $142,000 it contributed, but Mayor Greg Bryan said it was well worth it.

"It was extremely meaningful," he said. "We were able to save a few Colorado River rafting trips and people started coming back."

Bryan testified before a House committee in Washington on Wednesday on the ramifications of the closure.

Tusayan's hotel and motel occupancy dropped from 95 percent to 30 percent during the shutdown, which coincided with peak tourist season.

Bryan also told the committee that his town, the state and private donors had the dollars to keep the park from shutting down and the feds immediately said no.

"We have concerns about that. We believe when a national park closes, individuals and the community comes forward to help, it should be allowed."

A spokesman for Sen. John McCain said the Arizona Republican was working with lawmakers from other states that reopened parks to craft legislation allowing repayments.

Associated Press contributed to this article.

About the Author


Position: Senior News Reporter. Started with KTAR July 4, 1999.

Favorite spots in Arizona: Pinetop-Lakeside, Alpine, Greer.

Have covered some of the biggest stories in Arizona including nine of the top 10 largest wildfires in state history. The Wallow Fire in 2011 became the largest fire in state history. Rodeo-Chediski Fire in June 2002, which is the second largest fire in Arizona. Covered the Yarnell Hill Tragedy in June 2013 that left 19 Granite Mountain Hotshots dead.

Favorite movies: True Grit, both 1969 John Wayne classic and the remake with Jeff Bridges and Lonesome Dove.

Sports Teams: Washington State University Cougars, Texas Longhorns, The University of Montana Grizzlies.

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