Thousand of visitors were turned away Tuesday from national parks across California as the federal government shutdown took effect.

But for parks lovers and tourist businesses hoping for a bailout from Sacramento to keep iconic sites open, the answer was no. California Gov. Jerry Brown, whose state is home to 26 national park units, from Yosemite to Death Valley to Point Reyes National Seashore, said no state money will be offered to keep the gates open.

Not only are there a lot of parks, said H.D. Palmer, a spokesman for the state Department of Finance, but California's budget is finally balanced after years of multi-billion-dollar deficits, and can't afford the expense.

"Also, if the state were to take that action, there is no guarantee that it would be reimbursed," Palmer said.

On Monday, the governor of South Dakota, Republican Dennis Daugaard, sent a letter to the director of the National Park Service offering state funding and employees to help keep open Mount Rushmore, the state's top tourist attraction. Arizona's governor used state money in 1995 in an arrangement with national parks leaders to keep Grand Canyon National Park open during the last federal shutdown. Arizona's current Gov. Jan Brewer said Monday her cabinet considered the idea but the state won't bail out the Grand Canyon this time.


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California officials are concerned that their fragile state budget faces a major risk if Republicans in Congress default on the nation's debts rather than extend the debt limit later this month. Such a default could send financial markets crashing, which would have a direct impact on California's budget.

That's because California's tax system is tilted so that the rich pay a large amount of state taxes. In 2011, the most recent year that complete data is tallied, the top 1 percent of households paid 41 percent of California personal income taxes.

"You've got a very narrow band of taxpayers that contribute a large amount of state personal income taxes," Palmer said. "And a lot of that money comes from capital gains and stock options."

All 401 national parks in the United States -- from the Everglades to Cape Cod to Yellowstone to Civil War battlefields -- closed Tuesday for the first time since 1995 when House Republicans, led by then-Speaker Newt Gingrich, pushed for a shutdown in a budget stalemate with President Clinton.

The park service estimated this week that it is losing $450,000 a day in entry fees and campground revenues. During the last shutdown in 1995, local businesses that serve tourists near national parks lost $14 million a day over 28 days of closure, according to the Department of Interior.

The shutdown is keeping an estimated 750,000 visitors a day from the parks, and threatens events, including dozens of weddings that were planned at sites such as the National Mall in Washington, D.C.

House Republicans offered to pass legislation Tuesday that would keep parks open, but Democrats rejected it, saying that it was a piecemeal approach and that the nation needed to pass a "clean budget" that does not try to overturn President Obama's health care law.

Environmental groups were angry Tuesday.

"The closure of America's crown jewels threatens the livelihood of park businesses and gateway communities," said Theresa Pierno, acting president of the National Parks Conservation Association, an environmental group, along with families of furloughed parks employees "and countless American families and international visitors who rely on national parks being open for business to enjoy our national heritage."

Paul Rogers covers resources and environmental issues. Contact him at 408-920-5045. Follow him at Twitter.com/PaulRogersSJMN