Governor Matt Mead has decided that Wyoming Department of Transportation equipment and labor will be made available if the Cody and Jackson communities raise money to pay the state to get the roads to the east and south gates of Yellowstone National Park open on time.
"This is a uniquely Wyoming solution that benefits the entire country because it gives the public the access to Yellowstone it has typically enjoyed. Yellowstone is spectacular - one of the crown jewels of the National Park system, and we want all to be able to experience its many wonders as they have in the past," Governor Mead said. "This is also a win for Wyoming's economy because businesses can start hiring on time and providing jobs that people and communities count on."
Governor Mead credits the cities of Cody and Jackson for helping to develop this idea. The Office of Tourism stands ready to get the message out about the Park gates being open to travelers as usual. Governor Mead, the gateway communities, and the Park Superintendent have worked to come up with this solution. Previously the Park Service had said the roads would not open on schedule as part of federal spending cuts.
The Governor did express his frustration with the manner in which sequestration was handled. "In Wyoming we just made significantly greater percent cuts than sequestration. We took a year making hard decisions that allow us to cut costs but keep the roads open, keep the lights on, and provide essential services. The federal government must do more cutting and do so in a way that is neither last minute or seemingly random," Governor Mead said. He explained why it is not appropriate to commit state dollars to plow federal park roads. "If Wyoming begins the process of trying to backfill lost federal dollars at every turn, we will destroy our own budget and put an additional burden on Wyoming citizens, Wyoming taxpayers. In addition, covering federal budget shortfalls with state dollars provides a mask for a process of fiscal mismanagement that should not be excused. To commit these dollars means we would be going down a road with no end in sight."