Hawaii's national parks slash services

Hawaii's national parks slash services

PEARL HARBOR (HawaiiNewsNow) - Hawaii's national parks are slashing services to avoid employee furloughs. Officials must find a way to trim 5% from the National Park Service budget. Some of the cutbacks are leaving many visitors disappointed.

Tickets to tour the USS Arizona Memorial are always in high demand. Now they're even harder to secure since the last program ends at 1 p.m. instead of 3 p.m. at the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center.

"We've reduced the number of tours by two hours which means 8 tours, equaling 1,200 visitors. So we ran out of tickets early this morning," said Eileen Martinez, chief of interpretation at the WWII Valor in the Pacific National Monument.

"It kind of sucks because I know a lot of people already made reservations," said San Diego visitor Angela Flick.

People who made online reservations for tour times that no longer exist are being offered a chance to reschedule. Others hoping to pick up same-day tickets on Wednesday afternoon were turned away. Since several key positions aren't being filled, the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center is also closing at 4:30 p.m. instead of 5:00 p.m. daily.

"It never even occurred to me that sequestration would be affecting what happened today," said Seattle visitor Joe Tuttle. "I just talked to the park ranger and he said that they've shortened up the programs so that's unfortunate."

Visitors can click HERE to make an advance reservation to tour the USS Arizona Memorial.

Over on the Big Island, 8 staff positions at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park will remain vacant.

"We'll have to cancel education programs for close to 12,000 students, teacher workshops that reach up to 120 teachers," said superintendent Cindy Orlando.

Visitor numbers are up nearly 25% compared to last year, but now the park is trying to do more with less funding.

"10 miles of trail will not be maintained and that could ultimately result in closures of those trails. We can't sustain this level of reduction for a long period of time," Orlando said.

Haleakala National Park on Maui is also leaving positions unfilled to avoid furloughs. Management will be making some tough choices about clearing trails, maintaining facilities and protecting natural resources.

Copyright 2013 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.