Hickenlooper trying to reopen Rocky Mountain National Park after feds allow use of state funding

Estes Park, RMNP already hurt by flooding

ESTES PARK, Colo. - Gov. John Hickenlooper's spokesman says the state is trying to reopen Rocky Mountain National Park after the Obama administration said Thursday it will allow states to use their own money to reopen some national parks that have been closed because of the government shutdown.

"We are working on whether we are able to open all or part of the park or not," Hickenlooper spokesman Eric Brown said in an email to 7NEWS Thursday.

Hickenlooper and his counterparts in at least three states asked for authority to reopen national parks within their borders because of the economic impacts caused by the park closures.

The governor also joined town officials and residents in flood-ravaged Estes Park in saying that the park closure is compounding the financial harm to a community that was temporarily cut off by September flood waters that wiped out stretches of roadways and damaged bridges in the area.

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said in a letter Thursday to governors in Colorado, Utah, South Dakota and Arizona that the government will consider offers to pay for park operations, but will not surrender control of national parks to the states.

Larimer County Sheriff Justin Smith said on Facebook Thursday morning that he has contacted Hickenlooper's office offering to provide law enforcement assistance and search-and -rescue response if needed at Rocky Mountain National Park.

Meanwhile, Estes Park residents and business leaders protested the shutdown closure at the barricaded entrance of Rocky Mountain National Park on Thursday morning "to publicly and plainly express our disgust," town resident Andrea von Kaenel said in an email publicizing the demonstration.

"Many of us in Estes are totally incensed about the closing of our beloved RMNP (not to mention all the National Parks which are supported by our tax dollars, etc, etc!)," von Kaenel wrote. "Following the flood and loss of two major access roads into our community, this is nothing other than a real slap in the face, an insult, a nail in the coffin of our little town's retail and tourist trade as well as possible doom for the livelihood of many local residents."

Similar protests have occurred from Yosemite National Park in California and to Everglades National Park in Florida.

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