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Communities pay to open Yellowstone National Park on time

Communities in western Wyoming are coming together to fight the effect of sequestration.

When people learned that federal budget cuts would delay the opening of Yellowstone National Park, local leaders took action to make sure that wouldn’t happen.

Thanks to budget cuts that kicked in March 1, the federal government won’t be sending in plows this year to clear the road to Yellowstone’s south gate by May 10, like it always has.

Instead, the south gate was set to open on May 24, two weeks later than usual.

According to Jackson Hole Chamber of Commerce CEO Jeff Golightly, approximately 18,500 visitors travel through Yellowstone’s south gate each May.

Those thousands of visitors spend millions of dollars in Jackson Hole. A delayed opening could mean two weeks of lost revenue, which Golightly won’t let happen.

“A lot of the hotels in town, a lot of the direct tourism businesses were very concerned,” said Golightly.

Golightly met with state leaders and came up with a solution.

“We stepped in and funded the plowing, so now (the opening) is back to May 10,” Golightly said.

It’ll cost an estimated $70,600 to open the gate on time. The Cody community also raised $100,000 to open the east gate on May 3.

“Jackson takes our stewardship to the national parks very seriously,” Golightly said. “The idea that it wasn’t going to be open for the world to see just didn’t sit well with us.”

The Wyoming Department of Transportation will donate use of snow removal equipment at no charge.

Plowing starts April 8.

The Jackson Hole Chamber of Commerce is accepting donations from the public to help the cause.

You can contact the chamber at 307-733-3316.

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