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National parks reopen after mini-Sagebrush Rebellion (+video)

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But the park reopenings, some experts say, are also symbolic of repudiation by regular Americans of Washington gridlock, including Republican leadership as well as President Obama, who many thought seemed intent on holding the nation’s treasures hostage in order to maximize the pain of the shutdown and pin blame on Republicans.

Though the federal government is giving up no control of the parks, the decision by states to take charge in order to reopen the parks drew parallels to the simmering Sagebrush Rebellion in the West, where elected officials have long schemed to annex federal lands back into state hands.

“It’s no surprise that the parks became very visible symbols of the consequences of this kind of shutdown, giving us both a teachable moment for people to realize that government does stuff that they like, but where we also saw fundamental manipulation going on,” says John Freemuth, a political scientist at Boise State University and a former Park Ranger.

The reaction to the closures, publicized through social and new media, included acts of civil disobedience as visitors jumped barricades and tossed aside cones, as well as considerations by county officials in southern Utah to order sheriff posses to reopen the parks by force.

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