Utah company donates $100k to fund parks during shutdown
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A Utah company donated $100,000 on Thursday to keep three national parks open during the federal government shutdown.
The money from Salt Lake City-based uniform and linen rental company Alsco will fund operations at Zion, Bryce and Arches national parks.
It will pay for basic custodial and visitor center services at least through President’s Day weekend on Feb. 18, as the parks’ busy season begins.
The bare-bones operations have been funded through nonprofit groups and local governments since the shutdown began Dec. 22.
Alsco co-CEO Bob Steiner, a former state lawmaker, said those efforts inspired executives to help.
“Visitors have planned their trips for months or years,” he said. “We want them to remember the beautiful vistas, not piles of trash in the parks.”
The National Park Service has dipped into entrance fee income to pay for staffing, but that money only covers part of custodial services, said state tourism director Vicki Varela.
“Let’s just all acknowledge that we are patch-working,” she said. “The national park folks are out on the front lines doing the hardest work they’ve ever done.”
Keeping a national park open typically costs about $40,000 every day, but Utah parks have been operating with a fraction of that, providing only the most basic services, Varela said. The money will be allocated to the foundations that support the parks.
The Alsco donation is unique for its size and its purpose of supporting three separate parks, she said.
Atlanta-based Delta Airlines gave an $83,500 grant to re-open Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park in Atlanta.