×

Unlike past government shutdowns, Haleakala National Park is still open

Access to most areas continues, services limited

Sunrise viewing remains available at Haleakala National Park amid the government shutdown. No park fees are being collected. Haleakala National Park photo

Unlike as in past federal government shutdowns, Haleakala National Park remains open through the current partial shutdown, though with limited services.

Many disappointed visitors encountered closed gates at the summit and no sunrise viewing about a year ago during a 69-hour shutdown. Parts of the park remained open then with limited services. During the 16-day shutdown in October 2013, the entire park was closed to visitors.

“Since that shutdown, the current administration has sent a clear message that access to park lands will be provided,” said park spokeswoman Nancy Stimson on Monday, noting file footage of a senator confronting a park ranger at the National Mall demanding access during a previous shutdown. “The services to the public are not provided.”

On the 10th day of the partial shutdown Monday, Stimson said that a small incident command team, which includes law enforcement rangers, are working minimal hours without pay “to protect resource and provide emergency services.” She is one of those working without pay to provide information to the public.

Unlike past shutdowns, sunrise visits to the summit are permitted. Stimson said that the entrance station is staffed from 3 to 7 a.m., checking sunrise reservations only. There is no entrance fee.

Most areas of Haleakala National Park at both the Summit and Kipahulu districts remain open with all park regulations and laws enforced, Stimson said in a news release Monday. Visitors are reminded that drones are not allowed in the park.

Emergency response may be delayed or not available due to the shutdown, she said. Camping is allowed only within Hosmer Grove Campground in the Summit District; Kipahulu Campground; and tent campgrounds at Kipahulu and at Holua and Paliku in the crater.

The Headquarters Visitor Center at the 7,000-foot elevation, and Haleakala Visitor Center overlooking the crater at 9,741 feet, are closed. In the East Maui district, the Kipahulu Visitor Center and Pools of ‘Oheo are closed.

All park interpretive and educational programs are canceled.

No permits will be issued for backcountry cabins in the crater. Refunds may be requested via www.recreation.gov after federal operations resume.

Park-specific road, weather and trail condition updates are unavailable. Visitors may want to view local news stations and forecast.weather.gov/MapClick.php?zoneid=HIZ022 or www.ifa.hawaii.edu/haleakalanew/weather.shtml for information.

There is a total of 80 staff members at Haleakala National Park and 31 have been furloughed, Stimson said.

Four commercial tour operators are being allowed to enter the park as visitors but are not receiving personal service at visitor centers from the National Park Service, she said.

Park operators are “donating a small amount of funds through a short-term agreement” to the park, Stimson said. The park did not ask the tour operators to make the payments, she added.

When asked how long Haleakala National Park can hold out and stay open with minimal services, Stimson replied: “We do not know. This is not business as usual.”

* Lee Imada can be reached at leeimada@mauinews.com.