Yellowstone Open Again - KULR-8 Television, Billings, MT

Yellowstone Open Again

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CODY, WYOMING -

The world's first national park re-opened Thursday morning after being closed by the government shutdown for sixteen days.

Yellowstone rangers started welcoming people at 7 AM. The visitors seemed happy, but business leaders in gateway communities are still unhappy.

At Yellowstone's East Entrance, near Cody, the Park Ranger leans out of the kiosk and says, "Welcome to Yellowstone."

The greeting came after the Park's gates were closed for 16 days. Cars trickled in, and the people in them seemed happy to find the Park open again.

The Park is open, but nearby communities lost a lot of money during the shutdown. One businessman in Cooke City said his small community lost more than a hundred thousand dollars during the shutdown, and he wants to know who's going to pay for his losses.

The owner of Buns and Beds says business isn't picking up either. Leo Gartner says, "All this money's gone." Referring to the government he said, "What they did is just not right."

The CEO and Director of the Center of the West in Cody, Bruce Eldredge said, "The Buffalo Bill Center of the West lost between sixty and a hundred thousand dollars in direct revenue because of the government shutdown."

The director of the non-profit complex of five museums said he had to lay off seasonal employees four weeks early.

Eldredge explained, "We lost approximately fifty motor coach tours, bringing fifty people each to the center. We also lost tourism business by people who were coming in RV's or by car."

Even though the Park is open now, the Cooke city businessman points out, "Anyone who had plans to come here has changed their plans. All that money is gone and we have nowhere to go."

"So I think the government did us, as a not for profit organization, a great disservice. And I'm wondering if I should send my one hundred thousand dollar bill to Congress."

Cody, Wyoming and Cooke City, Montana are just two of at least six Yellowstone gateway communities affected by the shutdown.

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