HAWAI‘I VOLCANOES NATIONAL 20 • April 17, 2016 PARK CENTENNIAL ‘Like running a small city’ Think about the last time Facilities management team works behind the scenes at 333,086-acre park you visited Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park, or what your first visit will be like. Did you drive your car to the park? Will you fill up your reusable water bottle or use the restroom? Did you go into a visitor center? Did you enjoy a picnic in the grass or hit the trail on a ranger-led hike? If you did any of those things, you can thank the park’s facilities management team. Facilities are essential for every park visitor’s experience. The 155 miles of marked trail, 66 miles of paved roads, nearly 200 buildings, as well as the water and wastewater systems, are all operated and maintained 365 days a year by the hard-working facilities management team at the park. Some call us maintenance staff, but the work we do goes beyond just fixing things. We plan, design, construct, operate and maintain a wide variety of facilities in the park that not only serve nearly 2 million park visitors each year, but hundreds of park and park-partner staff who work every day to help you have a great experience and protect the park’s natural and cultural resources. It is a lot like running a small city, and at 333,086 acres, Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park is nearly as large as the island of Oahu. The park facilities stretch from the top of Mauna Loa, where there are trails, a cabin and outhouse at 13,250 feet, all the way down to the coast, where a parking area, visitor contact station and restroom serve park visitors. Within the facilities management team, we have a roads department which keeps the roads, scenic overlooks and parking areas open and safe for your visit. The trail crew keeps trails clear so you can get out and experience the spectacle of Kilauea Caldera, hear the call of the rare ‘i‘iwi in a kipuka, follow ahu (rock cairns) as you hike across a vast lava field younger than you are, or hike down the pali and along the coast to your favorite backcountry beach. Good roads, parking areas, trails and boardwalks also protect the rare and fragile habitat by concentrating visitor use and protecting areas from trampling by millions of footprints and vehicles. The pure and clean water you drink and use while visiting is provided by our park utilities department. We rely entirely on rainwater catchment, the largest public system of its kind in the U.S. Our buildings department keeps the park visitor centers, restrooms and support buildings, most of which are historic, and their systems functional. It is like being the owner and steward of a historic home, 200 times over. Speaking of buildings, I bet you will use the restroom at least once during your visit to the park. You have the park custodial and grounds department to thank for supporting those 2 million flushes each year. The staff works every day to keep the restrooms clean and full of supplies, even on weekends and holidays. They also care for the picnic areas and grounds around the park, including managing all of the park solid waste and recycling. The project management team coordinates numerous projects, from replacement of outdated electrical lines in Nahuku (Thurston Lava Tube) to upgrading the park’s front-country trails to make them more accessible for our visitors with disabilities. The park has been here for 100 years and things do wear out and need replacing. We design projects and work with local contractors to complete the work of keeping our facilities in good condition for your great-grandchild’s first park visit. You might ask how we keep track of it all. Our asset management branch keeps track of more than a half-billion dollars’ worth of facilities in Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park. They track all of the time, materials and funding that is spent to manage all of the facilities assets and help with the very important task of requesting funds for projects to help keep our most important facilities, such as the park visitor centers, in good condition for another 100 years. You might not notice the work we do, but the next time you are here, please take a moment and think about all of the hard-working and highly skilled people who work year-round to make your visit safe, enjoyable, meaningful and memorable. If you see us out there in our green pants and grey shirts, take a moment to say aloha or even ask us a question. We are your dedicated public servants and we are here to help you “Find Your Park” and have a great visit. Jon Christensen is chief of facilities management for HVNP. J C Ahu mark the trail to Keanakakoi Crater.
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