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Hawaii National Parks navigate federal shutdown

The current shutdown of a large portion of the federal government has affected Hawaii National Parks. Many areas remain accessible during the shutdown. Other facilities and services will continue to be unavailable for as long as the shutdown continues.

The World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument has been able to continue operations through donations from a variety of nonprofit organizations. They pooled $100,000 from their respective operating budgets to keep the National Park open, even as its funding has evaporated with the shutdown. It is a moving commitment to educating people from around the world about one of the most important events in modern history.

An average of 5000 people visit the attractions at Pearl Harbor daily. It takes $18,000 per day to operate the National Monument. Even with the generosity of the nonprofits that have been able to keep the park operating, funds will soon run out. The fate of operations during the shutdown remains unclear. Efforts continue to secure funding that will keep the park running, despite the federal government’s inability to keep it open.

Halemaumau Crater at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.

Many parts of Volcanoes National Park on the Big Island (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) and Haleakala National Park on Maui remain accessible. The Chain of Craters Road at Volcanoes National Park is closed. Emergency medical services will be limited. At Haleakala National Park, two visitor centers and back-country cabins are closed. Unfortunately, visitors with existing reservations are advised to make other plans.

The federal government shutdown also means that the websites and social media outlets for Hawaii’s National Parks will not be updated for as long as the shutdown continues. This will make it difficult for visitors to stay abreast of current closures and service suspensions.

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During these times of government shutdowns, our local news outlets are often the best way to stay updated about park closures. They deploy reporters “on the ground” to find out the most currently available information.

Heleakala National Park.

Shutdowns like this most current debacle are particularly hard on Hawaii’s National Parks, their employees and families, and the local businesses and families that depend on the visitor traffic these national treasures bring. Imagine the outrage that would have erupted if the shutdown came before the December events that commemorate and honor the bravery of American soldiers and civilians during the attack on Pearl Harbor that propelled the US into World War II. It’s unthinkable.

World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument.

That makes it important for visitors to know that while access and services at Hawaii’s National Parks will be limited, they are still accessible to the public. 800,000 federal employees and contractors received a lump of coal for the holidays, but many in Hawaii and elsewhere remain committed to keeping as much as they can open and functioning at our National Parks. This is out of a sense of duty, a dedication to stewardship, and a love for educating people about the history and culture of the most beloved and revered locations in the Hawaiian Islands and in the world.

This is the exact meaning of aloha.

Posted by: Jamie Winpenny on Dec 30, 2018