Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, conservative rock star and possible 2016 dark horse, is defying a directive from the National Park Service to close down several state parks. The parks will not receive federal funding in the wake of the partial government shutdown, but that will not cripple their operations.
The Republican governor has directed the state Natural Resources Department to keep open parks that are funded by majority from the state.
The department recently attempted to intervene after the Fish and Wildlife Service deployed barricades near a Mississippi River boat launch, because it was on federal land. The barricades were removed due to a decades-old agreement between Wisconsin and the federal government, state officials said.
“We respect the magnitude of the process the federal government has had to undertake to close its properties and certain activities on properties they own and manage,” wrote Cathy Stepp, who is secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. In an email obtained by The Hill, she told agency employees, “However, after close review and legal consult, [the Department of Natural Resources] has clarified areas where the federal procedures are over-reaching by ordering the closure of properties where the state has management authority through existing agreements.”
State officials also said Wisconsin will not fully follow a Fish and Wildlife Service directive that hunting and fishing be prohibited on federal lands during the partial shutdown.
“Blame can go around for everybody,” said Gov. Scott Walker when asked about the shutdown. “The best way to resolve it? Just look at what we did in Wisconsin. We had a $3.6 billion budget deficit. We now have more than half a billion surplus.”
Meanwhile, in Arizona, Sens. John McCain and Jeff Flake can’t understand why federal authorities have refused Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer’s offer to use state money to keep the Grand Canyon open during the government shutdown.
People’s Pundit Daily recently laid out several pieces of evidence to provide the senators with an answer, which is that the administration is intentionally causing citizens pain. Aside from state pledges, many businesses in Arizona and other states have made similar pledges, but they’ve been rejected by the National Park Service. The Republican National Committee pledged to pay for the World War II memorial in Washington, as well.
A park official said this week that as long as the federal government remains shut down, such a plan isn’t an option. That prompted action by Sens. McCain and Flake, who sent a letter Friday to Department of the Interior Secretary Sally Jewell.
The two Arizona Republicans said, “federal statutes extend broad discretionary authority” for Sewell to accept donated funds for purposes of operating the national park system.
Friday, Gov. Jan Brewer and Arizona state legislative leaders sent a letter to President Obama urging him to approve funding the Arizona park and other national parks.
The politicians said in a news release that — at the very least — they want the president to allow for state and private funding to reopen the parks.