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Glacier Gorge, Rocky Mountain National Park. Courtesy photo.

On Thursday, Governor Polis issued an Executive Order directing the Colorado Department of Natural Resources to develop a plan for continued operations and resource protection of Colorado’s National Parks and other federal lands in the event of a federal government shutdown.

This is good news for the rural communities and rural economies that cluster at the base of the National  Parks located in Colorado. Especially since the state is in the gorgeous tourist season known as “leaf-peeping”.

“Our state is proud to be home to world-class outdoors, including four national parks, that play a key role in our economy and way of life. Coloradans and millions of visitors every year — many of whom are looking forward to seeing the beautiful Fall colors — hike through trail systems and see the iconic natural wonders in our parks. Colorado’s beautiful national parks belong to the American people and help support our local communities and economy,” said Governor Polis

“The closure of the national parks and other federal lands would hurt state and local economies, small businesses, and park employees,” he added. “My action today will help ensure national parks and federal lands will remain open through a potential shutdown and protects Colorado from the damage closing the parks would have. I urge the federal government to reach an agreement, and I am hopeful they will do so to avoid a shutdown.”

The Executive Order directs the Colorado Department of Natural Resources to work with Colorado Parks and Wildlife to develop a plan for continued operations and resource protection of Colorado’s four national parks and federal lands through a federal shutdown and submit the plan to the Governor’s office.

Last year, more than 5.5 million people traveled to Colorado to visit the national parks, spending over $695 million.

Polis is not the only Western governor taking this step. Arizona Governor Katie Hobbs and Utah Governor Spencer Cox took action to ensure that national parks in their states remain open through a federal shutdown.

In 2018, Arizona Governor Ducey signed an Executive Order directing Arizona State Parks and Trails to recommend a plan to continue operations at Grand Canyon National Park during a federal government shutdown. Governor Hobbs has said Arizona is prepared to use the Executive Order to keep the Grand Canyon open once again. Utah Governor Cox has also pledged resources to keep its national parks open in the event of a shutdown.