President Donald Trump said Wednesday that his administration planned to reopen national parks around the country. No details on the timeline for reopening the parks — Arches National Park and Canyonlands National Park in particular — were immediately available.
“Thanks to our significant progress against the invisible enemy, I am pleased to announce that in line with my administration’s guidelines for opening up America again, we will begin to reopen our national parks and public lands for the American people to enjoy,” Trump said during a White House ceremony celebrating Earth Day.
Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt later tweeted a video of Trump’s comments, commenting that he, Vice President Mike Pence and the president were “committed to working with governors and local public health officials to gradually reopen our National Parks in a safe manner for the American people to once again enjoy.”
Spokespersons for the Southeast Utah Group of the National Park System, which includes Arches and Canyonlands, were not immediately available for comment Wednesday afternoon.
Utah Gov. Gary Herbert weighed in Wednesday afternoon after Trump’s comments.
“Following our announcement last week to reopen state parks to all visitors, I support a safe and structured reopening of Utah’s five national parks, and other national recreation areas,” Herbert said. “We look forward to working with local health departments in finalizing plans to safely get people back into Utah’s own Mighty Five.”
Herbert went on to say that getting out was a great way to “relieve stress and anxiety brought upon by current circumstances,” but that Utahns “cannot, however, relax our efforts to practice safe social distancing and responsible recreation,” adding the residents should avoid “unnecessary risks” that could result in hospitalization.
“We all play a part in keeping one another safe, whether in our communities, or recreating at a state or national park,” Herbert said. “By working together, I believe we can safely reopen these areas.
Arches and Canyonlands closed at the end of March at the behest of the Southeast Utah Health Department and other local officials, including Moab Mayor Emily Niehaus and the chair of the Grand County Council Mary McGann.
CNN reported that an Interior official “downplayed” Trump’s statement, characterizing it as not being a major new announcement. The Hill reported that an “details regarding plans for reopening specific parks will be provided in the coming days following guidance from the White House,” according to an Interior official.
Note: This story has been updated to include comments from Utah. Gov. Gary Herbert.