SALT LAKE CITY — Following an announcement that Utah will front the bill to reopen national parks in the state until the federal government shutdown ends, Gov. Gary Herbert plans to convene the Legislature in a special session Wednesday to authorize the expenditure.

"Come on down to southern Utah. The parks are open in Utah," the governor said Thursday night after signing the contract.

Utah made an agreement with the Department of Interior to pay the park service up to $1.67 million — $166,572 a day — to reopen the eight sites for up to 10 days. If the government shutdown ends before then, the state would receive a refund of unused funds.

In response to the decision, Herbert has called the Legislature into special session to authorize sending the necessary funds to Washington, D.C.

The agenda will also include authorizing the use of state dollars to offset needs in the Child Nutrition Plan, also impacted by the shutdown, and to fund benefits for certain furloughed federal employees who haven't been paid since the shutdown started Oct. 2.

— McKenzie Romero