Brewster County Commissioners to Hold Special Meeting Regarding Big Bend National Park

Brewster County Commissioners to Hold Special Meeting Regarding Big Bend National Park

Brian Wise
NewsWest 9

BREWSTER COUNTY- The government shutdown isn't being easy on Brewster County. Big Bend National Park draws about half a million people every year. With winter coming, more tourists are looking to head south. Brewster County isn't just going to sit by though. NewsWest 9 spoke with county officials on Wednesday and learned how they got Big Bend National Park open around the shutdown 17 years ago.

Many federal workers were still home on Wednesday. The president and the congress have still not come to an agreement on the budget. Mike Conaway serves Texas' 11th Congressional district and told NewsWest 9 about the damage this shutdown is causing.

"We are at an impasse that is hurting people. It's inefficient. It will have a negative impact on the economy at some point in time. And real people are being disadvantaged by this but Harry Reid and the president are just stiff necked and obstinate about not wanting to have any kind of conversation with house Republicans as to how we move forward on this issue," Conaway said.

The political standoff is hurting Brewster County. Big Bend National Park gets a large number of tourists each year bringing money to the county. Ruben Ortega, who is a Brewster County Commissioner, knows the importance of the fall and winter season.

"We're getting into our best time of year. The fall is from now until April of next year is kind of our big time of year for people traveling down here," Ortega said.

Brewster County residents who live in Big Bend rely on the paved road that goes through the park. 17 years ago, the county was able to get around the government shutdown. Judge Val Beard remembers what happened in 1995.

"17 years ago, during the last closure, there was litigation regarding the closure of Big Bend National Park and actually a temporary restraining order was granted by Judge Lucius Bunton against the closure of the park," Beard said

A special commissioners court meeting will be held in Alpine on Thursday to address county residents on the issue. Getting a temporary restraint is one idea being considered. The main goal is to notify people on the closure of Big Bend National Park.