Commissioners from Garfield County stated that the closure of Bryce Canyon is impacting hoteliers and others who depend on the flow of tourists for their livelihood. Springdale, the gateway to Zion National Park, normally sees ten thousand visitors a day. The town, in spite of its messaging effort that it is open for business, is eerily empty. In turn, each of the counties in attendance reported similar stories of economic downturn and distress in their areas.
Later, in an emergency County Commission meeting held at one o’clock this afternoon, The Washington County Board of Commissioners unanimously passed a proclamation declaring a local emergency in Washington County due to the economic disruptions arising from the closure of Zion National Park and federally managed campgrounds. A copy of the resolution was forwarded to Governor Herbert following the meeting.
DECLARING A STATE OF LOCAL EMERGENCY IN WASHINGTON COUNTY, UTAH DUE TO THE ECONOMIC DISRUPTIONS ARISING OUT OF THE CLOSURE OF ZION NATIONAL PARK AND FEDERALLY MANAGED CAMPGROUNDS
WHEREAS, Washington County is a political subdivision of the State of Utah;
WHEREAS, over 75% of land in Washington County is managed by the federal government;
WHEREAS, Zion National Park (“Zion” or “the Park”) is located in Washington, Kane, and Iron Counties;
WHEREAS, Zion receives approximately 3 million visitors annually, and the vast majority of those visitors pass through commercial areas of Washington County to gain access to Park;
WHEREAS, those visitors not only enjoy the natural beauties of Zion, but also enjoy the accommodations, restaurants, and shopping venues in the County;
WHEREAS, a significant number of residents in Washington County rely on the tourism industry created by Zion visitors for income;
WHEREAS, a significant portion of the annual visitors come to Zion in the month of October to enjoy the fall temperatures and avoid the summer crowds—by no means has the tourism season ended at the beginning of October;
WHEREAS, visitors also come to Washington County to recreate in federally managed lands outside of Zion—especially during the deer hunt that occurs annually in October;
WHEREAS, the operation of federally managed campgrounds brings tourism to Washington County;
WHEREAS, on October 1, 2013, the federal government closed Zion National Park, as well as all of the other National Parks, National Recreation Facilities, and federally managed campgrounds in the State of Utah;
WHEREAS, this closure is having a devastating impact on those Washington County residents that rely on visitors to federally managed land, especially those that rely almost exclusively on visitors to Zion;
WHEREAS, this severe and direct impact has an indirect impact on the rest of the economy in Washington County because of the lack of spending by those residents directly impacted by the lack of tourists; and
WHEREAS, the overall economic disruptions caused by the closure, which is an “internal disturbance” under the law, are sufficient for Washington County to declare a Local Emergency.
NOW, THEREFORE, pursuant to Utah Code Annotated Section 53-2a-208 (West 2013), on behalf of the citizens of Washington County, the Washington County Commission declares Washington County to be in a state of “Local Emergency”;
FURTHERMORE, pursuant to Utah Code Annotated Section 53-2a-208(d), Washington County is authorized to provide all appropriate aid and assistance in relation to this Proclamation.
WASHINGTON COUNTY COMMISSION
James Eardley, County Commission Chair
October ___, 2013
Kim W. Hafen
Washington County Clerk