Hawaii unlikely to pay to reopen national parks

HONOLULU – Hawaii is unlikely to reopen national parks during the federal government shutdown, in part because it appears that the state wouldn’t be reimbursed for doing so, a spokeswoman for the governor said Friday.

So far, only Utah and Colorado have jumped at a deal offered by the Obama administration that requires states to foot the bill for reopening with money they likely won’t see again.

Reimbursement isn’t the only issue that Hawaii must consider, but it’s “a huge factor,” said Louise Kim McCoy, a spokeswoman for Gov. Neil Abercrombie.

Each day, thousands of tourists visit Hawaii Volcanoes National Park on the Big Island and the USS Arizona Memorial in Pearl Harbor, which is operated by the National Park Service. The sites, along with Haleakala National Park on Maui, are a major part of Hawaii’s tourism-driven economy.

The state already must think about paying for other federally funded programs if the shutdown continues, including food stamps, welfare, the National Guard, unemployment assistance and workplace safety, McCoy said.

“Those are more on the top of the list because of how they’re impacting families and children and their welfare,” McCoy said.

Abercrombie said in a statement that Congress shouldn’t expect Hawaii or any other state to assume the obligations of the federal government.

“It is the clear responsibility of Congress to end the shutdown as quickly as possible, to meet continuously until that is accomplished, and restore all federal services,” the governor said.

Utah plans to reopen five national parks for 10 days after sending $1.65 million to the U.S. government. In Colorado, officials said a deal had been struck for the state to pay $360,000 to reopen Rocky Mountain National Park for 10 days to allow tourists to reach Estes Park. The visitors are needed to help the town recover from flooding.