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Utah counties want new state law to force parks to reopen
Tourist season » Herbert is asking the Interior to let the state take over temporarily.

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According to Gardner, the reopened parks would provide access to major sites and hiking trails but would probably not allow camping or backcountry access. Funding for the reopening would come from county budgets and sheriff’s deputies would provide law enforcement inside the parks. Other county personnel, such as volunteers and county search and rescue, also would likely be deployed.

Gardner said the counties do not have the resources to run the parks long-term, but they could manage them over the short term. He also hopes the parks reopen later this week, though he did not know if that would ultimately happen.

At a glance

National Park passes good at Utah parks

Utah State Parks officials announced Wednesday, at the request of the Gov. Gary Herbert, that state parks will honor National Park Service passes during the federal government shutdown; valid for day-use only. For more travel information visit www.visitutah.com

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County control could also mean some sort of clash between local and federal law enforcement. Gardner said there will not be armed confrontations, but federal personnel "have made it plain that law enforcement could be subject to charges" if they enter the parks. According to Gardner, that means county sheriff’s deputies could end up facing trespassing charges for going into the parks.

The Utah Legislature repealed a bill in July that attempted to limit federal land agency law enforcement powers after U.S. District Judge David Nuffer issued a preliminary injunction blocking the law’s implementation.

Another multi-county meeting to discuss the situation and further hash out a strategy was scheduled for Thursday afternoon in St. George, Gardner said.


Tribune reports Robert Gerhke, Brett Prettyman and Jim Dalrymple II contributed to this story.

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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