Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam announced on Tuesday an agreement to reopen the Great Smoky Mountains National Park with all normal operations from Wednesday, October 16 through Sunday, October 20.
“The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is America's most visited national park, and for the Smokies and the people around it, the month of October is the most important time of the year,” Haslam stated.
The national park costs $60,100 to operate per day, according to the
National Park Service. Sevier County has sent $300,500 to NPS to open
the park for five days.
The state will cover 80 percent of the cost in the form of a $240,400
tourism grant to Sevier County with Sevier and Blount counties funding
the remaining $60,100 to fully fund operation of the park for five days.
A National Park Service report found that the 9.6 million visitors to the Smokies during 2012 had an economic impact of $818 million in communities surrounding the park, in both Tennessee and North Carolina.
Haslam has worked with North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory, who has expressed a willingness to assist financially with the reopening.
“I appreciate the cooperation and support of Governor McCrory and the state of North Carolina,” Haslam said. “Together, we've been able to reopen the nation's most visited park during a key month for tourism in Tennessee.”
The park will open at 12 a.m. Eastern time on Wednesday, October 16 and stay open until 11:59 p.m. Eastern time on Sunday, October 20 if the shutdown is not halted before then.
He added he remains hopeful the government shutdown will end this week.