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Tourism head says future park shutdowns unlikely

Associated Press Updated: July 5, 2014 at 10:16 am

MOUNT RUSHMORE NATIONAL PARK, S.D. (AP) — Democracy is celebrated every day at Mount Rushmore National Memorial — not just the Fourth of July weekend.

And South Dakota's Tourism secretary says it's unlikely the Shrine of Democracy will be off limits again if there's another government shutdown.

Jim Hagen says the Interior Department likely learned a hard lesson during the shutdown last October and now realizes how important national parks are to local economies.

He says state officials also learned how passionate South Dakotans are about the parks. He says Gov. Dennis Daugaard raised thousands of dollars within an hour of asking for private donations used to reopen Mount Rushmore.

The Interior Department says nearly 4 million people visited national parks in South Dakota in 2012, spent more than $236 million and supported over 3,700 jobs.

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