Overlook crisis averted

Well, thank goodness the Painted Canyon Overlook crisis has been averted.

Theodore Roosevelt National Park Superintendent Valerie Naylor said Wednesday that the rest area and tourist attraction near Medora will open after all, after previously saying the site would be closed because of the automatic federal budget cuts in the federal budget.

Naylor said “unexpected savings” were found that will allow the location to be staffed by park personnel. Park officials said some 300,000 vehicles stopped at the site last year, where visitors enjoy a magnificent view of the Badlands. Not all those visitors entered the small rest area and visitors center, of course.

Officials continually referred to closing the overlook because of the budget cuts, but that to us seemed a bit misleading. We don’t see how the overlook itself could have been closed, considering it’s simply a place to stop and enjoy nature’s beauty. The visitor center would have been closed because of a lack of park employees to staff the center, and we understand that.

Thankfully, the whole issue has apparently been avoided. Naylor said the plan still has to be approved by the National Park Service, but the site, which costs roughly $40,000 a year to operate, could be open by Memorial Day and stay open until sometime in September. We’re happy and not at all surprised that “unexpected savings” were somehow found to keep the popular site open to visitors.