Ally Isom, the governor’s deputy chief of staff, told The Times-Independent that Herbert and his team are in the process of finalizing an agreement with the U.S. Interior Department.
“We’re probably about 99 percent of the way there,” she said late Thursday afternoon.
Department spokesperson Blake Androff said in a statement that Interior Secretary Sally Jewell will consider similar agreements with governors who show an interest and ability to fully fund National Park Service personnel.
“The Interior Department will begin conversations about how to proceed as expeditiously as current limited resources allow,” Androff said Oct. 10.
However, Jewell said in an earlier letter to Herbert and other governors that the federal government will not surrender control of the parks to the states.
Arches and Canyonlands are among the 401 national parks that shut down on Oct. 1 as a result of the federal government shutdown.
If the state can wire money off to the Interior Department by Thursday evening, Isom said the governor is hoping that the parks could reopen by Friday night. However, it could take the department up to 24 hours to take action, so it might be more realistic to say that the parks will reopen this weekend, Isom said.
The parks may reopen on a rolling basis, or one site at a time. In the meantime, Isom said that state officials are actively working to let visitors know that the situation could soon return to normal.
"The state tourism office has been pretty aggressive (in getting the word out)," she said.
The Times-Independent will update this breaking news story as more information becomes available.