Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet today welcomed Governor John Hickenlooper's decision to use state funds to reopen Rocky Mountain National Park. The Park provides a critical access route to Estes Park, but it has been closed since October 1 due to the federal government shutdown.
"When floods destroyed miles of roadways and bridges across Colorado last month, Estes Park found itself with limited access to the rest of the state," Bennet said. "The unnecessary government shutdown only made matters worse, forcing the closure of Rocky Mountain National Park and a crucial access point to the community. Reopening the Park will restore that access and ensure that Coloradans can continue their work to recover and rebuild from the devastating floods."
The U.S. Department of Interior announced yesterday it would entertain proposals from states wishing to use state funds to cover personnel and maintenance costs in order to reopen National Parks. Following the announcement, Bennet urged the Administration to quickly implement the policy in Colorado to reopen Rocky Mountain National Park.
Earlier this week, Bennet also urged the Administration to work to reopen Trail Ridge Road through Rocky Mountain National Park because it is an important access route for Estes Park, which was devastated by the recent flooding. The announcement will make this vital road open to Coloradans this October.
Two of the main highways leading into Estes Park are still closed due to extensive flood damage, and currently only a single route in and out of the town is available. Reopening both the road and Rocky Mountain National Park opens a crucial second access point for Estes Park, guarding against the possibility that inclement weather or an unexpected event could cut the town off completely from the rest of the state.
Rocky Mountain National Park draws over 3 million visitors every year who contribute close to $200 million in tourism revenue.