While usually open 24 hours per day, 365 days a year, Haleakala National Park at the summit closed its gates Monday after Congress failed to meet an agreement over the government spending bill by its midnight deadline.
"Basically, if a shutdown occurs, the park is closed. All trails, roads and buildings are closed until federal funding comes through," Haleakala Chief of Interpretation Polly Angelakis said Monday afternoon before the government shutdown went into effect.
Up until Monday afternoon, park officials had remained "hopeful that the government won't be shut down" but also had been "preparing for the worst." They had printed signs, recorded closure voice mail messages and notified commercial operators that they may no longer bring visitors to the park, Angelakis said.
Additionally, 70 of the park's approximately 85 employees would have to be furloughed, Angelakis said.
Maui Visitors Bureau Executive Director Terryl Vencl said Monday that she was concerned about both the immediate and long-term effects on consumer confidence among visitors. Haleakala National Park draws nearly a million visitors annually.
"Obviously Haleakala, being the number one attraction on the island, we do not look forward to it being closed down," Vencl said. "Visitors may find other places to go for vacation."
Six other Hawaii national parks, including Kalaupapa National Historic Park, also have been closed, though residents should be able to remain at Kalaupapa, according to U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard's website.
"All facilities and services in our national parks would be closed, impacting the hundreds of thousands of people that visit these sites daily," the website said. "This would have severely negative impacts on the surrounding local communities that rely on the revenue generated by travel and tourism to these destinations."
The partial government shutdown also affects thousands of Hawaii's military personnel, many of whom will find their paychecks delayed, and about 25,000 civilian federal employees, who will be out of work, according to U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz.
"A government shutdown would harm the people of Hawaii," Schatz said in a statement. "Enough is enough. While the continuing resolution is not perfect, it will keep the government from shutting down. We must now work to pass a budget that removes damaging sequestration cuts and represents the priorities of working families."
A representative from U.S. Sen. Mazie Hirono's office said that "every agency will be impacted differently. Some have the money to keep them open and others don't."
Head Start on Maui, a federal and county-funded youth program operated by Maui Economic Opportunity Inc., will not be greatly impacted since it received its annual funding in June, according to MEO Chief Executive Officer Lyn McNeff.
The program may be affected or discontinued if the shutdown lasts until next year, she said.
Air traffic controllers, airport screeners and inspectors are either exempt from the government shutdown or deemed essential workers, according to Maui District Airport Manager Marvin Moniz. He did not expect operations at airports to be affected by the government shutdown.
* Eileen Chao can be reached at email@example.com.