CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A deal to open the Great Smoky Mountains National Park parks in Tennessee for the weekend came too late for the state to send money to the federal government, Gov. Bill Haslam said Monday.
The price tag to remove the barriers to the country's most-visited national park? $60,100 per day.
Haslam told reporters that banks were already closed by the time the state was informed about how much money to wire to the federal government on Friday afternoon.
The governor said the closure of the Smokies is especially hard on the local economy, because this is normally the busiest time at the park. According to park officials, it averages about 1.1 million visitors in October alone.
"October for the Smokies and the people around it is like December for retailers in a mall. This is when all the business happens," he said. "Every weekend they lose is an irrecoverable revenue situation."
Haslam said talks about reopening the park would resume after the Columbus Day holiday on Monday.
"We'll resume those conversations first thing in the morning with the goal of hopefully being open at least by the weekend, if not before," he said.
The governor did not say how the state would pay for reopening the park.
"If we make that decision we'll tell you what we're doing, and where the money's coming from," he said.
Governors in several other states have asked for authority to reopen parks within their borders, citing economic losses from closures. Arizona reopened the Grand Canyon on Saturday. Mount Rushmore National Memorial in South Dakota and Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado also reopened along with several parks in Utah.
And New York is paying $61,600 a day to reopen the park that is home to the Statue of Liberty.
Local politicians have urged Haslam to work toward reopening the Smokies, citing lost tourist revenue. U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., agreed.
"For these surrounding communities, the Smokies closing is like a BP oil spill for the Gulf," Alexander said in a news release Friday. "This is the prime tourist season for the Smokies, when many of the small businesses around the park make most of their money."