As government shutdown drags on, nonprofits scramble to keep Pearl Harbor monument open

(Image: Hawaii News Now)
(Image: Hawaii News Now)
Published: Dec. 27, 2018 at 5:54 AM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Despite the partial government shutdown, the World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument is still open — thanks to the generosity of several nonprofits.

But officials warn funds to keep one of the state’s most-visited attractions open could be gone by the end of the week.

And they’re appealing to the state for help.

It costs up to $18,000 a day to keep Pearl Harbor’s historic sites up and running.

And the group of non-profits that have been footing the bill are now scrambling to head off a closure.

“This park is important because it’s an iconic park. It’s a memorial," said Aileen Utterdyke, Pacific Historic Parks president. “It’s a park that represents a lot of people who sacrificed their lives for the United States.”

[Read more: Here’s how the federal government shutdown is impacting Hawaii]

Every day, up to 5,000 people make their way to the World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument. It’s a trip many people plan months in advance.

“There are thousands of visitors from all over the world who come to see this park and understand our history and keeping the park open is crucial to perpetuating that,” Utterdyke said.

A quarter of all Hawaii tourists visit Pearl Harbor.

That’s why last week the group of non-profits — Pacific Historic Parks, the USS Bowfin Submarine Museum, the Battleship Missouri Memorial and the Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum — pooled together close to $100,000 from their operating budgets to keep the monument up and running during the government shutdown.

But come Friday the money will run out.

Cindy McMillan, communications director from the Ige administration, said the nonprofits' request for funding is under review. “We’re reviewing what options might be available to help keep these attractions open,” she said.

Other states facing similar issues are pitching in to keep their national parks open.

In Utah, the governor signed off on an $80,000 grant that will carry three of its most popular parks through the end of the year.

Utterdyke says she’s optimistic the park will remain open. But so far, no one’s stepped in to help.

“We’re still in talking stages,” said Utterdyke. “The conversations are very positive. They are trying to find ways to step forward and help.”

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