The two national parks in western Texas and the one in southeast New Mexico remain closed.
Tourists returned to several national parks on Saturday after state officials along with several counterparts agreed to a federal government plan to reopen national parks, which had been closed as a result of the partial government shutdown. But the Obama administration's permission to reopen tourist areas across the nation came with a big caveat: States must foot the bill with money they likely won't see again. So far, Utah, Colorado, South Dakota, Arizona and New York have agreed to open parks that had been closed since the beginning of the month. Meanwhile, governors in other states were trying to gauge what would be the bigger economic hit - paying to keep the areas operating or losing the tourist money that flows when the scenic attractions are open.
Slightly more than 400 national parks, recreation areas and monuments - including such icons as the Grand Canyon and Yosemite - have been closed since Oct. 1 because of the partial government shutdown. More than 20,000 National Park Service employees have been furloughed, and lawmakers from both parties have complained that the closures have wreaked havoc on communities that depend on tourism.
Interior Department spokesman Blake Androff said Thursday the government had no plans to reimburse states that pay to reopen parks. But members of Congress introduced legislation Friday to refund the money within 90 days.
There are three national parks within a few hours drive of the South Plains. New Mexico state officials have stated they will not reopen Carlsbad Caverns National Park. Big Bend National Park and the Guadalupe Mountains National Park in Texas remain closed. State officials have not made a decision yet to reopen the two parks using state funds.
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