Friday, May 18, 2001
THE visitor center at the USS Arizona Memorial was conceived as a pleasant spot to be briefed about the history of the sunken battleship and to stand in line to board a Navy boat to be shuttled to the memorial itself. An effort is under way to enlarge the center and turn it into a full-fledged museum, a logical conversion that reflects the increase in tourism and takes advantage of the current public attention to the infamous day in American history.
Memorial comes of age
with expansion plan
The issue: A fund drive has begun
to expand the visitors center at the
USS Arizona Memorial into a museum.
Since the memorial's construction spanning the doomed battleship was completed 40 years ago, the largely open-air shoreline facility has continued to be regarded primarily as an accessory to the historic site.
Brief talks by park rangers or Pearl Harbor survivors and 23-minute documentary films have provided valuable preparation for visitors about to embark on the shuttle, and the center's bookstore has offered enriching literature and memorabilia.
The center was designed to accommodate 750,000 visitors a year, but visitation in recent years has totaled nearly twice that. "The current memorial facility is not up to the task," says Maile Alau, executive director of the memorial fund. "There's no room to tell the heroic stories of Dec. 7, 1941."
The plan is to double the size of the center, which will include increasing the space for exhibits by 2,900 square feet and adding a second story for research facilities. The museum area will be indoors, with temperature and humidity controlled to preserve displays of fragile artifacts, which are not now viewable by the public.
The $10 million fund drive was launched with a check for $2 million from the Arizona Memorial Association and a first installment of $75,000 in charity royalties from 20th Century Fox from a digital home-theater version of the movie "Tora Tora Tora." The debut next week of the highly promoted Disney film, "Pearl Harbor," will add greatly to the effort. The Disney company has donated services and publicity to the fund drive.
The country's only museum about the war in the Pacific is situated in Fredericksburg, Texas, the birthplace of Adm. Chester Nimitz. Pearl Harbor, bookmarked by the USS Arizona, an early victim of Japan's surprise attack, and the USS Missouri, on whose deck the Japanese surrender was signed nearly four years later, is an appropriate location to establish a museum that is likely to attract ever more visitors interested in the World War II's Pacific theater of battle.
In the profusion of problems in Hawaii, an invasion by tiny frogs may not rank high on the list of priorities. But it should. The amphibians from Puerto Rico are just two of thousands of alien species that threaten Hawaii's agriculture, tourism and environment. These pests cannot be ignored.
Tiny, alien frogs
making big noise
The issue: Alien amphibians are
making themselves at home in Hawaii.
The populations of the coqui and greenhouse frogs have spread from eight areas on the Big Island in 1998 to 150 sites, 40 on Maui and a handful on Oahu and Kauai. The main problem is the screeching noise the coqui makes. That alone would be harmful to the visitor industry if the frog expands its range to hotel and resort grounds, keeping tourists awake.
Scientists also worry that the frogs' consumption of up to 114,000 insects each a day could diminish food sources for native birds while the frogs themselves may feed mongooses and rats. They suspect the frogs spread pests on nursery plants, which could have a tremendous effect on that market.
State and federal agricultural officials have found that a strong caffeine-water solution will kill the frogs, but the mixture also kills other animals and could taint water supplies. They await a decision from the federal government on whether the caffeine fix can be applied.
Agriculture officials, on shoestring budgets, have been successful in keeping Hawaii free of rabies, red fire ants and the brown tree snake. This year, the state Legislature provided just $180,000 for invasive species control on Maui, Hawaii, Kauai and Oahu, and another $315,000 to hire one invasive species control officer for each island. The total appropriation is $5,000 less than allotted to combat the invasive pest last year.
Money isn't the only problem. The frogs "slid through the bureaucratic cracks" because there are no clear lines of responsibility among government agencies that deal with invasive pests, according to Duane Nelson, chairman of the Big Island Invasive Species Committee and forest health coordinator for the U.S. Forest Service.
Humans share responsibility, he says. The frogs, brought in on nursery plants in the last decade, were largely spread by people who "took them home and put them in their gardens."
The foreign frogs may turn out to be more nuisance than environmental hazard, but not taking their presence seriously would be foolish.
Sighting of the coqui or greenhouse frogs should be reported to the numbers below. To hear the coqui on the Internet, log on to http://www. hear.org/frogs
Big Island: 961-4482 or 961-3299
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