PHOENIX — Not waiting to see what happened in Congress, Gov. Jan Brewer wired enough money to Washington on Wednesday to keep Grand Canyon National Park open through at least Oct. 27.
The cash infusion comes on top of the $651,000 the state sent to the National Park Service on Friday. That payment allowed the gates to reopen after an 11-day closure following the partial shutdown of the federal government at the beginning of the month.
That first payment was enough to keep the park operating through Friday. But the deal Brewer inked with Jonathan Jarvis, the Park Service director, requires the state to have at least two days’ worth of funding on account at any time. That is based on Jarvis’ contention it takes that many days to close the park.
That forced Brewer to come up with some more dollars before the close of business Wednesday, even as a deal was coming together in Washington to both fund the government and avoid hitting the debt ceiling and defaulting on the nation’s obligations.
While Brewer could have opted to extend park operations by only two days, though this weekend, she chose instead to send an extra $837,000. That includes some leftover funds from the original payment, where Brewer had allocated $500,000 from the Arizona Office of Tourism and had a check for $200,000 from the town of Tusayan. The balance will be fueled by another $226,500 in private donations from Tusayan merchants plus more out of state tourism promotion funds.
The deal with the Park Service says these funds are a “donation,’’ with no promise of reimbursement once the federal agency is again funded from Washington. But Brewer said she is counting on members of the state’s congressional delegation to approve legislation reimbursing Arizona.