HAWAII VOLCANOES NATIONAL PARK, BIG ISLAND (HawaiiNewsNow) - Visitor numbers are up as the National Park Service celebrates its 100th anniversary, but facilities across the country, including here in Hawaii, have delayed major repairs due to inadequate funding.
The deferred maintenance backlog in Hawaii totals about $112 million, according to a recent federal report.
Some 1.8 million people explored Hawaii Volcanoes National Park on the Big Island last year. The popular attraction, which is the largest of the state's nine National Park Service landmarks, also has the biggest maintenance backlog -- at $79 million.
"We've got a harsh environment, volcanic gases. We have 150 miles of trails. We have 66 miles of paved roads, 200-plus buildings that are historic," said Cindy Orlando, superintendent of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. "We also go from sea level all the way up to 13,000 feet at the top of Mauna Loa."
The park has made some progress on backlogged repairs.
The facility faced $125 million dollars worth of delayed maintenance a few years ago. Congress provided $7.8 million in 2016, and entrance fees and donations bring in additional funds.
"We have to focus on the high priority assets that support the mission critical needs for the visitors and that protect the park's resource values," Orlando said.
Haleakala National Park on Maui also faces challenges maintaining roadways, buildings and sewer systems.
"The trick about deferred maintenance is if it is not addressed, it actually gets worse every year because every year everything gets one year older," said Natalie Gates, superintendent of Haleakala National Park.
Gates is always looking for public-private partnerships and other ideas to help enhance the visitor experience.
"We want them to come to safe and enjoyable places, so it is a little bit of a challenge to keep visitor centers open as much as possible and yet improve them at the same time," she said
Meanwhile, the Kalaupapa National Historical Park has $23 million in deferred maintenance, and the World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument on Oahu has nearly $5 million in needed repairs.