Government shutdown would affect Arizona national parks and monuments

COOLIDGE, AZ - There are 22 national parks in Arizona, with the Grand Canyon being the largest. Besides federal parks, all national monuments would close if the federal government shuts down on Tuesday. 

That closure could end up causing some big economic issues for nearby businesses that rely on tourism.

It would be bad news for the Casa Grande Ruins, a national monument an hour southeast of Phoenix in Coolidge.

"They have their own agendas, and sometimes we get lost and they don't think much about us," says Mayor Tom Shope. 

He's talking about the political game in Washington, D.C. that could affect his tiny town of 12,000. 

"If it gets into the busy season which starts November 1st, it'll have a tremendous effect," Shope said.

The site preserves the remains of an ancient Hohokam-era farming village and of course the Casa Grande, a four story high, 60 foot structure given the name by Spanish explorers for its enormous size.

Employees at risk of being furloughed include park rangers, front desk workers, maintenance staff and even archaeologists on site.

Coolidge Mayor Tom Shope told us there's also the potential economic impact on the rest of the city if the monument closes its doors.

"A lot people when they come down here from the Phoenix or Tucson area, and from out of state for that matter, they're going to eat a meal here," Shope says. "So there's potentially $1,000 a day money's going into the city of Coolidge, which employs people."

Roughly 250 people visit the site every day, like Bob Marsh from Rice Lake, Wisconsin.

"Think of the revenue that's generated by people like us coming down here to visit this," says Marsh. "Or any of the other national monuments that are out there."

The town would lose revenue from gas, shopping and food. Money that goes directly into the local economy. 

Shope, who's concerned about his town, is also worried about his own business. If the closure lasts, his supermarket could also take a hit.

Employees at the monument would feel the impact right away. 

Twelve people work there, and all but one or two would be furloughed, according to Park Superintendent Karl Cordova. 

"These are America's treasures and we can't just abandon them so we'll have just a minimal staff to make sure that they stay secure," he said.

Cordova says in the event of employee furloughs, there's no guarantee that those employees would be paid. 

Mayor Shope is confident the government can reach an agreement, even if it means a shutdown for a week.

 

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