Tennessee, Arizona Senators Introduce Legislation To Reimburse States For Reopening National Parks During Federal Government Shutdown

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Senators Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker along with Senators Jeff Flake (R-Az.), John McCain (R-Az.) and a bipartisan group of senators, introduced legislation today to reimburse states for funds used to reopen national parks while the federal government was shut down last October.

“The Smokies closing was like a BP oil spill for the Gulf, especially for places like Sevier and Blount counties, where the success of many small businesses relies on our country’s most-visited national park,” Senator Alexander said. “This national treasure shouldn’t have been forced to close in the first place, and Tennessee taxpayers certainly shouldn’t be forced to foot the bill for having it reopened.”

“I feel fortunate to have grown up in East Tennessee with the Smokies in my backyard and know all Tennesseans take great pride in the fact that millions of people visit our state every year to experience our tremendous God-given outdoors,” Senator Corker said. “This bill ensures the state of Tennessee will be made whole after it had to foot the bill to keep the national park open during last fall’s irresponsible government shutdown, and I thank Governor Haslam and Senator Alexander for their leadership on this issue.”

During the shutdown of the federal government this past fall, Senators Alexander and Corker worked with Gov. Haslam, local county mayors and other members of the Tennessee congressional delegation to facilitate the reopening of the park. On Oct. 15, 2013, Senator Alexander introduced his own legislation to reimburse states for all state funds used to reopen national parks while the government was shutdown.

The National Park Access Act would repay six states that used approximately $2 million state dollars to reopen national parks, of which Tennessee paid $60,100 to reopen Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The shutdown ended when Congress enacted the Continuing Appropriations Act of 2014, which included retroactive funding for the National Park Service that covered park operations for days that had already been paid for by states. The National Park Service ended up with approximately $2 million in excess funds for the year because of the days of park operations that states paid for during the shutdown. The Department of the Interior has recognized this excess of funds, but has indicated it needs congressional authorization to return the money to states.

According to the most recent National Park Service economics report, 9,685,829 visitors to Great Smoky Mountains National Park spent $741 million in communities near the park in 2012, supporting 10,959 jobs in those areas.

The legislation authored by Senator Jeff Flake (R-Az.) is also cosponsored by Senators Bennet (D-Co.), Hatch (R-Ut.), Lee (R-Ut.) and Udall (D–Co.).


Segment Of Yellow Trail Closed At Chickamauga Battlefield

Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park is advising the public that a .73 mile segment of the Yellow Trail in Chickamauga Battlefield will be closed effective March 27, and will remain closed until further notice.  The section of trail that is closed runs parallel to Reed’s Bridge Road, in between the parking pull-off areas for the Blue Trail and the Green Trail. ... (click for more)

3 New Members Join TFWC; Largemouth Bass Record Holder Visits Meeting

The man who broke the state record for a largemouth bass was recognized at the March meeting of the Tennessee Fish and Wildlife Commission on Thursday. In addition, the TFWC welcomed three new members. Gabe Keen was a guest at the meeting and was presented a certificate for his state record catch of 15 pounds, 3 ounces which came Friday, Feb. 13 on Chickamauga Reservoir. ... (click for more)

Hard Freeze Predicted In The Area For Saturday Night

Temperatures are expected to drop Saturday night to 28 degrees or less. Here is the latest report from the National Weather Service:  HARD FREEZE WARNING REMAINS IN EFFECT FROM MIDNIGHT EDT /11 PM CDT/ TONIGHT TO 11 AM EDT /10 AM CDT/ SUNDAY... * EVENT... A HARD FREEZE EXPECTED WITH LOWS FROM THE TEENS NORTH TO THE UPPER 20S SOUTH LATE TONIGHT AND SUNDAY MORNING. ... (click for more)

Man Charged In Shooting On Sixth Avenue Had Been Shot Himself Last Week; Police Say Incident "Part Of Gang War"

A man charged with attempted first-degree murder on Sixth Avenue Court on Thursday afternoon was shot himself earlier this month. O'Shae Kadaris Smith, 20, of 2114 E. 12th St., is also charged with reckless endangerment, aggravated assault and possessing a firearm during the commission of a crime. He was one of two people shot on Rawlings Street on March 16. Kendre Allen, ... (click for more)

Finley Stadium Needs To Grow Up - And Response

RE:  Finley Stadium Financial Picture Rosy; Beer And Alcohol Sales Approved; AstroTurf Almost Ready and City, County Pitching In $250,000 Each For New Finley Stadium AstroTurf I read a story here five days ago about a rosy future for Finley stadium. It lead me to believe that the stadium was making money and even improvements with donations.  Then we get a short ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Mom’s Parting Instructions

My mother, Helen Exum, went to be with the Lord in late August of last year and, in the way folks do, I was going through some of her files last week when I ran across an envelope with my name on it. Inside was a story and written in her hand were the words, “This is a wonderful story for you to tell!” Not being one to disobey my mother and not about to waylay the wishes of the ... (click for more)