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Brock: Closing Painted Canyon feels a lot like posturing

Not opening the Painted Canyon overlook this summer shouldn't be an option.

There has to be a way to safely allow for motorists passing through our state to enjoy the breathtaking beauty of Theodore Roosevelt National Park for a few moments, even if the National Park Service can't figure it out.

People will stop to take in the view with or without an exit ramp -- and that will be awful dangerous with the increased traffic in western North Dakota.

Sorry at first glance if closing the overlook seems like the easiest way to make a statement about how the sequester effects TRNP.

Park officials say their budget was cut 5 percent. Did they lay off 5 percent of their people? Couldn't they reduce their operating hours by 5 percent? Could they seek volunteers to help man the visitor center at Painted Canyon?

Unlike our state, the nation does not have a surplus because Congress and the president haven't been able to think like private businesses and households. Federal agencies like the National Parks lack innovation when money is tight.

Still, if TRNP can't find a way to open the scenic overlook, than it's time to let someone else be responsible for it. Why can't they let the state operate it as a visitor center? Seek volunteers to man the center for blocks of hours during the day or let it join one of the many unmanned visitor centers along Interstate 94.

The center has been an invaluable portal to our state and to close it during the tourist season seems beyond foolish.

The state of North Dakota is spending hundreds of thousands dollars on tourism and keeping the Painted Canyon visitor center open would be relatively inexpensive.

Think about how it looks for our state, in the midst of an historic economic boom and the envy of the country, to have arguably our most scenic vista closed because of out-of-state problems?

Brock is the publisher of The Dickinson Press. Email him at