Imagine you are a seasonal business owner, relying on 4 months of business to keep you, your family and your employees afloat for the entire year. Now imagine an outside organization decided to cripple you, hoping to score political points. You weren’t asked for your opinion nor given an opportunity to have input into the political machinations designed to cause maximum pain. But, one thing is certain – you WILL feel the very real effects right where it hurts.
That unhappy scenario IS what happened to many small businesses in Utah reliant on tourism dollars when the feds decided to close national parks. (Because seriously, they are less essential than studying shrimp on treadmills, right???) And by the way – some Utah counties are now almost exlusively relying on tourism because the feds won’t let them access their natural resources in any other way. Nice, huh? Devastate a local economy, tell them to buck up and rely on tourism, then shut and lock the gates.
Nine rural Utah counties declared a fiscal state of emergency. Words like “devastating” and “blood-letting” were used to describe the economic impact. As reported by the Salt Lake Tribune, Ally Isom, Governor Herbert’s spokeswoman said: “We understand these local communities are hemorrhaging economically and that is our primary motivation, to restore our tourism infrastructure to being fully operational. That includes the national parks, because we do understand there are people at the local level that are suffering because of Washington, D.C.’s, inability to find a solution.”
Fed up with the lack of leadership from the shut-down federal government and understanding the very real impact of closed national parks to the Utah business owners and their families, Governor Gary Herbert rolled up his sleeves and went to work. Within 24 hours, he had a deal worked out, money wired to the feds, and the parks re-opened.
I recognize the irony of loaning the federal government money to operate parks located where you live, but I also appreciate ACTION rather than standing around wringing one’s hands and lamenting that this just should not be. The federal government is broken and how to fix it is a discussion for another day. Governor Herbert and other state leaders stepped up to deal with the very real issues facing very real families. Kudos to them.
In related news, dog poop is now more popular than Congress……..