The Showdown at Rocky Mountain National Park: Larimer County Sheriff Justin Smith vs. the Feds

April 8 2011, 10:00 AM

There's a new sheriff in town up in Larimer County, and he's ready to work around the feds in order to keep Rocky Mountain National Park open in the event the government shuts down tonight (Coloradoan). "The reality is, we are at the local level sending the message to Washington: We can take care of things," says Sheriff Justin Smith, who was elected last November (news release).

But park officials are doubtful a shutdown will occur—and if it does, their contingency plan includes "barricading" the gates and entry points, as well as staffing some park-authorized law enforcement officers (Reporter-Herald). Besides, says RMNP spokesman Larry Frederick, the tourist destination isn't in Smith's jurisdiction. The sheriff seems less interested in a political standoff with the feds than in the potential impacts of the closure on local businesses in Estes Park, which is on his turf.

Reports waffle between skeptical and hopeful on the potential Washington shutdown, which is partially  hinging on funding for Planned Parenthood, an organization Colorado Congresswoman Diana DeGette is defending (Denver Post). A good backgrounder on the deadlock is available from ProPublica.