"Unexpected Savings" Suddenly Allow Sequestered North Dakota Tourist Spot to Open After All

If there is any evidence that the Obama administration is gaming the “sequester” spending reductions to make them as painful and visible as possible, let it be the fact that a popular North Dakota tourist spot can now suddenly stay open because suddenly someone found some money or something after Senator John Hoeven got involved.

Valerie Naylor told The Press that the popular lookout rest area and tourist attraction, which is also a gateway to North Dakota’s only national park, could be open by late May after an agreement was reached Wednesday.

“We’ve reached a preliminary agreement that would have Painted Canyon open on May 25,” Naylor said. “We still need to get final approval from the National Park Service, but we’re pleased with this development. It’s important that Painted Canyon be open for visitors.”

Naylor said some “unexpected savings” were discovered that will allow the overlook to open.

Somehow the Painted Canyon overlook (which really is spectacular for any of you who haven’t seen it), which costs about $40,000 per season to operate, was able to be open in 2007 when the federal budget was 28% or $1.068 trillion smaller than it is today, yet we’re supposed to believe that because of a $83 billion reduction in the rate of growth of federal spending it has to be closed.

Absolutely ridiculous.

sequester-2013

Update: Here’s the press release from Senator Hoeven’s office where he describes putting together a multi-person, multi-agency “working group” to keep the area open. Anyone else thinking the man-hours involved here will probably amount to more than the $40,000 allegedly saved by keeping the place closed this summer?

WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven today said the U.S. Park Service has agreed to open the Painted Canyon Overlook in the North Dakota Badlands beginning May 25. The overlook will remain open through Labor Day.

Last week, Hoeven contacted U.S. Park Service Director Jonathan Jarvis and he agreed to work with the senator and the local community to come up with options to keep open the Painted Canyon Overlook.

Hoeven’s western North Dakota field representative, Jon Cameron, organized the Painted Canyon Overlook working group, which included National Park Service Superintendent Valerie Naylor, Medora Mayor Doug Ellison, Billings County Commission Chair Jim Arthuad and representatives from the Dickinson Convention and Visitors Bureau, the Theodore Roosevelt Medora Foundation, Medora Convention and Visitors Bureau, Theodore Roosevelt Nature and History Association, North Dakota Tourism Division, North Dakota Department of Parks and Recreation, North Dakota Highway Patrol and others.

The working group met yesterday to find solutions to open the overlook. At the meeting, the Park Service agreed to open the overlook from May 25 through Labor Day. Hoeven’s office is continuing to work with the group to provide additional assistance to open the overlook at the end of April or beginning of May and keep it open through October.

“Painted Canyon Overlook is beautiful site that attracts visitors from across the nation and the world to North Dakota,” said Hoeven. “We appreciate these federal, state and local partners working together to ensure that it will be open for the public to enjoy. Federal agencies need to be creative and work to minimize the impacts of the sequester on the public.”

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and host of the Plain Talk Podcast which you can subscribe to by clicking here.

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