Governor Beshear’s Communications Director Kerri Richardson says Beshear needs more information regarding future federal reimbursement and the level at which the facilities could be reopened before deciding on reopening federal parks like Mammoth Cave and Land Between the Lakes.
There’s no word yet from Governor Steve Beshear regarding whether he will use state funds to reopen national parks that have been closed due to the government shutdown.
The Obama administration says it will allow states to use their own money to reopen some national parks.
The Governors of Arizona, Colorado, South Dakota, and Utah have asked for authority to reopen national parks within their borders because of the economic impacts caused by the park closures. The closing of parks in Kentucky, such as Mammoth Cave National Park, has sent workers home and is a drag on local economies that benefit from tourists who visit the park and other nearby attractions.
Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said in a letter Thursday to the four governors that the government will consider offers to pay for park operations, but will not surrender control of national parks to the states.
Thirty-nine immigrants from 22 countries participated in a naturalization ceremony on Friday at Mammoth Cave National Park.
Credit Lisa Autry
Elenodoros Hadjisaavva, a native of Greece, holds his citizenship certificate following the naturalization ceremony. He lives in Henderson, KY with his wife Ellada, who became an official U.S. citizen three years ago.
The United States put on an adoption ceremony today at Mammoth Cave National Park.
In a courtroom made by nature, the U.S. adopted 39 new citizens. In the depths of a cave, a federal judge presided over the ceremony featuring natives of 22 countries around the world. Park Ranger David Alexander sang "The Star Spangled Banner," and Park Superintendent Sarah Craighead gave the country's newest citizens and official welcome.
"We are so pleased and honored to have you spend your first few minutes as citizens in a national park," remarked Craighead. "There's not a more perfect place to have that occur."
Nearly 50 immigrants from 23 countries will become U.S. citizens in a ceremony Friday at Mammoth Cave National Park in south central Kentucky. The ceremony is possible through an agreement between the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service and the National Park Service.
"There have been a number of them at Mount Rushmore, the Statue of Liberty...and of course national parks are so American, and they're public land, so they belong to all American citizens," says Mammoth Cave Public Information Officer Vickie Carson.
The ceremony will take place inside a cave and feature remarks from Mammoth Cave's deputy superintendent Bruce Powell, a naturalized citizen himself. Mammoth Cave last hosted a citizenship ceremony in 2011.
A major tourist draw in our region is offering a chance to see the world's largest cave system for free.
Mammoth Cave National Park will offer free Mammoth Passage cave tours on Sunday, August 25, in recognition of Founders Day, the founding day of the National Park Service.
“On August 25, 1916, Congress passed the Organic Act, which established the National Park Service,” said Superintendent Sarah Craighead. “I hope many of our friends and neighbors will help us celebrate by attending one of these free tours."
The free Mammoth Passage tours will depart from the visitor center at the following times: 8:45, 10:15, 11:15, 12:00, 1:15, 2:15, 3:30, and 4:30. The ¾-mile, 1¼ hours Mammoth Passage tour is limited to 40 people. Participants need to pick up a free ticket in the visitor center before going on the tour.
Mammoth Cave National Park is overcoming federal budget cuts to register some of the strongest summer attendance in recent memory.
The park's public information officer, Vickie Carson, says four cave tours were not offered this summer because of cuts related to the federal sequestration. But that didn't stop cave tour numbers from increasing one-to-two percent this year over the same time in 2012.
"If we continue at this rate through the end of the year, we'll probably be at 405,000 visitors through the cave this year. That would be a high point for at least the last ten years," Carson told WKU Public Radio.
Carson says with gas prices still well above $3 a gallon, Mammoth Cave has remained an attractive day trip option for those within close driving range.