ASSOCIATED PRESS / JUNE 2004
Visitors to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park watch from atop a cliff as lava heads toward the ocean in Volcano, Hawaii.
Bush plan helps parks
Eight isle sites could get more workers and $3 million in funds
Hawaii's eight national parks could gain $3 million a year in operating funds and up to 67 new seasonal employees, according to President Bush's National Park Service budget proposal.
"We were anticipating a little bit of an increase, but this is far more than anybody dreamed," said Cindy Orlando, superintendent of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.
The Bush administration touted its proposed $2.4 billion fiscal year 2008 budget last week as the largest increase in operating funds in the 90-year history of the National Park Service.
With its share of the pie, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park hopes to hire 11 more seasonal employees as rangers and maintenance workers, rebuild its park ranger station and update its master plan and the Jaggar Museum, Orlando said. It also intends to restore the original park headquarters as a museum and ask future operators of the Volcano House hotel concession to restore the building to its 1940s-era ambience, she said.
All that is possible with the proposed 15 percent budget increase because "we think we leverage our federal appropriation very wisely in this park," Orlando said. Hundreds of volunteers and dozens of partnerships provide much more work-force bang for the buck than shows in the park's operating budget, she said.
Leveraging federal funds is a key element of a 10-year "National Parks Centennial Initiative" Bush is proposing leading up to the 2016 Centennial of the National Park Service, Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne said last week in a telephone news conference.
Bush is proposing to lock in $100 million a year more to park operating budgets for the next 10 years and also to make available matching funds of up to $100 million a year to meet private donations for park improvements. That could result in $3 billion additional money for parks during the decade, Kempthorne said.
America's national parks now operate with a shortfall in excess of $800 million annually, and U.S. Sen. Dan Akaka and U.S. Rep. Neil Abercrombie, both Democrats, have helped bring attention to park needs, the National Parks Conservation Association spokesman Neal Desai, said in a press release*. The National Parks Conservation Association is a parks advocacy group.
At other Hawaii sites, park superintendents said they hope to:
» Set up an ambitious recycling and composting system for Kalaupapa National Historical Park on Molokai.
» Increase both cultural demonstrations and ranger enforcement at Kaloko Honokohau and Puuhonua o Honaunau National Historical Parks on the Big Island.
» Provide additional staff for a new $38 million USS Arizona Memorial visitor center. Private funds will be combined with $7 million in federal funds to build the facility, which is expected to break ground this year, said Frank Hays, National Park Service Pacific Area director.
"The American and world public has a special relationship with parks," Hays said. "We want to focus our efforts again -- and make sure all diverse groups across country are engaged with national parks and have an opportunity to enjoy and learn from national parks."
Honolulu will be the site of Hawaii's only "listening session" this spring to hear public suggestions for how to make the state's national parks better, officials said. The meeting is expected to be held before the end of March.
Wednesday, February 14, 2007
» An article on Page A3 Monday about President Bush's proposed budget for national parks failed to correctly identify Neal Desai as a spokesman for the National Parks Conservation Association, a parks advocacy group.