Painted Canyon Overlook Will Open May 25th - - Bismarck/Minot/Williston/Dickinson-KXNEWS,ND

Painted Canyon Overlook Will Open May 25th


After announcing that one of North Dakota's most scenic stops along interstate would be closed this summer due to federal budget cuts, a deal has been made to open the Painted Canyon Overlook after all.

Theodore Roosevelt National Park administrators say it was approved late this afternoon to open the tourist attraction using funding gained from a salary freeze.

Amber Schatz was at Painted Canyon earlier Wednesday, with more on the decision to close it in the first place.

Driving along interstate, you may notice this rest stop is closed, but behind the gates is a place that offers much more than first meets the eye.

"You don't really catch a glimpse of the Badlands until you drive into Painted Canyon, this is the first glimpse people get of the North Dakota badlands when they're coming from the east." says Eileen Andes, Theodore Roosevelt National Park, chief of interpretation.

She says most of their visitors are coming from the east, but, until only hours ago, access to this sight for all summer guests was in jeopardy.

"It's certainly not because we're posturing or trying to make a statement or anything."

Due to the sequester, federal parks, including the Theodore Roosevelt National Park have to cut 5 percent of their budget.

"We are pretty limited in how we can cut our budget, because so much of our budget is dedicated to fixed costs, employee, salary, benefits, utilities, maintaining vehicles, gasoline, toilet paper, we don't have a lot of space to cut." says Andes.

They have cut a number of seasonal employees, and have only filled 27 of 32 permanent positions.

"We have delayed hiring anyone to help with budget cut, we have cut some seasonal positions totally, we've cut back on visitor center hours..." says Andes.

She says they have also drastically cut their travel budget, but they won't give on opening this part of the park without someone here.

"When we open the area we have to have trash pickup, somebody clean up the area, to maintain the parking lot, security issues, that takes manpower." she says.

It may seem like a lot of hubbub over a rest area, but when it comes to closing down access to this view, it's clearly worth a second look.

"We want to be clear that we don't want to close Painted Canyon, we know what a fantastic view it is of the Badlands, for many people it's an introduction to the park..." says Andes.

Again, an agreement has been made to open the Painted Canyon Overlook starting May 25th.

This is more than a month later than it would normally open.

The plan is to keep it open until at least Labor Day. It's normally open until October 31st.

Andes says Senator Hoeven met with members of the Medora community this afternoon to discuss how to keep it open for years to come.

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