Texas County Mulls Lawsuit Over Government Shutdown

Our Fronteras Desk reporter at Marfa Public Radio, Lorne Matalon reports.

A Texas county dependent on tourism in is considering court action that would force the federal government to reopen Big Bend National Park during the shutdown.

Brewster County Texas Judge Val Beard is the county’s highest elected official.

She says Washington’s decision to shut national parks is killing tourism, a principal economic driver in West Texas, and that she has only two options to mitigate the damage. One is the threat of legal action, the other is a locally crafted workaround.

“The local people, who are our park employees, are good people and good neighbors. And I’m sure this is the last thing they want,” Beard said. “If there’s some kind of resolution that can be worked out neighbor-to-neighbor, that’s what we’re after. As an attorney I never like to litigate.”

The county sued Washington during the 1996 shutdown. But the case did not make it to court before the impasse was resolved.

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