Due to the recent information regarding the eight National Parks being allowed to reopen within Utah with the State funding the worker’s wages and operating costs I thought that I would share something with you that struck a nerve in me.
The following is an email I sent to Maui County Mayor Alan Arakawa’s office on October 4th, regarding the closure of Haleakala National Park during the current Government shutdown. It is a service known as “Ask the Mayor.”
Dear Mayor Arakawa,
The following letter offers a simple suggestion for you and your office in the hope of providing a solution to the Government shutdown of Haleakala National Park.
The National Parks in America were established, “For the Benefit and Enjoyment of the People,” according to Theodore Roosevelt. The National Park Service has spent decades preserving and researching the geology and wildlife in order to further educate the public. To deny anyone access to a park system that every American owns, seems unjust.
Is there any way Maui County can take over the day to day operations for Haleakala National Park?
There is right and there is wrong. This shutdown is wrong. I am willing to help change this injustice, but I am only one person. You are an elected official with scores of departments and people around you everyday who can communicate effectively to obtain results.
Have you and the County done everything within your powers to help Maui?
I do not have access to the amount of money the shutdown is costing Maui County in tourism dollars spent on the island, but common sense tells us that it is more beneficial to have Haleakala National Park open, rather than closed.
I am fortunate enough to have a full-time job here on Maui, but I would gladly take vacation or a leave of absence to volunteer my time up there to allow hundreds of visitors, and locals access to one of the most spectacular vistas on the planet. I’m sure there are a few other like-minded individuals such as myself that can afford to volunteer their time to keep Haleakala National Park operational. From what I understand, there is a minimal staff of Park Rangers still working (although they are not sure they are going to be paid), but with their assistance and some volunteers I’m guessing we could keep from turning visitors away.
Show the Nation, heck, the World, that the people of Maui County can work together in times of an emergency. Use your position as Mayor to ensure our hospitality is known throughout the world, and that our National Park is truly, for the benefit and enjoyment of the people.
Let our aloha spirit be a source of pride that others can draw strength from.
Mahalo for your time,
Vincent S. Lorusso
I did not include the picture in the email, that is just for my loyal blog followers.
Below I have included some statistics provided directly from the National Park Service about Haleakala National Park as well as the rest of the National Park Service (information has been taken directly from an official news release dated October 1, 2013. Contact noted on the release is Polly Angelakis who can be reached at 808-572-4450):
Haleakalā National Park hosts an average of 2000-3000 visitors each day in October. It is estimated that the park will lose approximately $6800 of entrance fees for each day of the shutdown. These fees are used to maintain the park’s visitor facilities and provide visitor services. More than 715,000 visitors a day frequent the entire National Park System. Nationwide, the NPS stands to lose approximately $450,000 per day in revenue.
Gateway communities across the United States see about $76 million per day in total sales from visitor spending that is lost during a government shutdown. Per 2008 figures, visitors spent over $78 million dollars a year in Maui County in association with park visits. In 2008, commercial service provider wages, plus National Park Service payroll, supported 1660 jobs and $55 million in economic activity in Maui County.
In Haleakalā National Park, approximately 15 NPS employees remain on duty, providing security and emergency services. Over 70 NPS employees are on furlough because of the shutdown.
Over 29 businesses with commercial use permits and numerous non-profit cooperating association employees are not able to conduct business in the park during the park closure.
Nationwide, the shutdown has resulted in furloughs for more than 20,000 National Park Service employees; approximately 3,000 employees remain on duty to ensure essential health, safety, and security functions at parks and facilities. About 12,000 park concessions employees nationwide are being affected.
I received an immediate automated reply to acknowledge that the office of the Mayor received my email. I would suggest they select the spell check option on any further automated or mass responses. I’ve included their response below:
Thank you for submitting your question for Mayor Alan Arakawa’s “Ask the Mayor” column. Your County-related question will be considered for future columns that are submitted to various local news and community publications.Please note that we are often unable to provide answers to questions that pertain to State departments, operations, facilities or roads/highways. However, we will try to answer questions that impact a large number of residents and/or visitors if the information is available frrm the State.Mahalo a nui loa, The Communications Staff of Mayor Alan Arakawa
I will post any further information as it becomes available…as of today, October 11th, no further communication has been received.