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Splitting the check for Grand Canyon opening

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A number of different players are pitching in money to help keep Grand Canyon National Park open to the public despite a federal government shutdown.

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer wired $651,000 to the federal government on Friday to pay the bills for the national park.

The original deal included $400,000 of state tourism money and $200,000 from the northern Arizona town of Tusayan, which generates much of its revenue from tourists visiting the natural wonder.

On Saturday, however, Tusayan Mayor Greg Bryan presented a check to Brewer for $426,000. That's more than twice what the town promised.

"We gave it expecting it to be used to keep the Grand Canyon open as long as it is possible," Bryan said.

Now, Brewer has an additional $226,000 to work with, all of which was donated by Grand Canyon area businesses. Brewer's office said the money might be used to offset the hit from the tourism budget or it might be used to keep the park open longer if the government shutdown continues.

"I have high hopes Governor Brewer will do whatever she can to keep the park open," Carole Stapleton said.

Stapleton works for Across Arizona Tours, a tourism agency based in the Valley.

Since the shutdown began, Stapleton says business took a sharp dive.

"The Grand Canyon is probably 80 to 90 percent of our business," she said.

For now, business is crawling back to normal, but the governor's office needs to have a plan: either with the donated $226,000 or additional state dollars by Wednesday.

If a plan is not submitted to the federal government by mid-week, the gates will likely close again on Saturday.

For more on this story and other stories around Arizona from this author, follow Shawn Kline on Facebook and Twitter.

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