ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - In a typical year, the majestic Carlsbad Caverns National Park attracts about 400,000 visitors a year.
But for the last two weeks, those caves have been off-limits, like other national parks caught up in the government shutdown.
Lisa Boeke, tourism director with the Carlsbad Chamber of commerce says that's been bad for business.
"We are seeing some cancelations from hotels right now for future bookings because of the uncertainty," Boeke said.
That tourism problem is why governors in five other states have struck deals with the National Park Service to open up some parks on a short-term basis. Under the deal, those states donate the funds to foot the bill needed to operate the parks with no promise of reimbursement.
New York is ponying up $369,300 to open the Statue of Liberty for six days. South Dakota is paying $152,000 to re-open Mount Rushmore for 10 days.
Closer to home, Colorado is paying $362,700 to fund Rocky Mountain National Park for a week and a half. Arizona is spending $651,000 for a week of an open Grand Canyon.
But Utah took the biggest step, shelling out $1.67 million to reopen eight of its national parks.
"The people that really make their livelihood on tourism travel, this is a godsend to them," said Gov. Gary Herbert, R-Utah. "They've been decimated by this."
It could be significantly cheaper for New Mexico to follow suit.
Based on their annual federal budgets, White Sands National Monument costs around $4,500 a day to operate, Bandelier National Monument about $8,800 a day and Carlsbad Caverns National Park around $16,000 a day. States paying the federal government to reopen parks are paying a little more than that daily rate as part of their deals.
Gov. Susana Martinez, R-New Mexico, says right now, don't bank on New Mexico striking a similar deal.
"National parks are certainly important but we think the safety of our state and of our people is number one and that is why we are putting our resources first with the National Guard," Martinez said.
New Mexico is paying $53,000 to keep 55 National Guard civilians from being furloughed for a week.
Martinez says the state shouldn't be forced to make these kinds of choices.
"We're waiting just as the rest of the country is so that we don't have to do continue doing the federal government's job," Martinez said.
The Governor's spokesperson Enrique Knell tells News 13 the state may consider paying to reopen national parks if the shutdown continues to drag on.
Although states currently aren't set to be reimbursed for paying for the parks, a newly-introduced House bill would pay the states back for costs incurred operating national parks during the shutdown.
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* N.E. Heights Winter Storm
*Weather in the West
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* Winter Weather Coverage
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