Park to open briefly for peak color season
An agreement was reached late Tuesday to reopen the Great Smoky Mountains National Park beginning 8 a.m. Wednesday and extending through Oct. 21.
Funds to make reopening possible came largely from Tennessee, which contributed $305,000. North Carolina pitched in $75,000.
A late Tuesday announcement from the National Park Service stated it has entered into an agreement with the State of Tennessee that will allow Great Smoky Mountains National Park to temporarily reopen on Wednesday, October 16, after being closed for 15 days due to the partial government shutdown. The park will begin opening facilities at 8 a.m.
N.C. Rep. Michele Presnell said in a news release Tuesday evening North Carolina funding came through as well.
“My fellow WNC legislators and I have been working diligently with the governor’s office to reopen Great Smoky Mountains National Park,” Presnell said. “Thanks to Gov. McCrory’s work on this critical issue, the park will be open during peak tourist season. Our small businesses in the region will surely get a much-needed revenue boost from those visiting one of our state’s most valued natural treasures.”
North Carolina will allocate $75,000 from tourism advertising funds.
The request followed a letter sent to N.C. Gov. Pat McCrory Oct. 15 by U.S. Rep. Mark Meadows requesting state funds be used to reopen North Carolina’s National Park Service (NPS) sites.
“Our national parks, including the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the Blue Ridge Parkway, are of the utmost importance to the people of the 11th District,” Meadows said in his letter. “As we have now entered the height of tourist season, we must reopen our parks to curtail the potentially devastating economic consequences of these closures. We are working daily in the House of Representatives to get the federal government reopened as quickly as possible, but we cannot allow the economic health of the many North Carolina communities dependent on these parks to be a casualty of continued negotiations. I urge Governor McCrory to consider using state funds to reopen all NPS sites in North Carolina.”
Meadows is supporting legislation in the House to reimburse states that have sacrificed their own dollars to reopen these sites once the government shutdown ends.