State of Hawaii

06/12/2024 | News release | Distributed by Public on 06/12/2024 17:54

Joint DLNR/City and County of Honolulu News Release – All Access to Haʻikū Stairs Closed During Deconstruction, June 12, 2024

DEPARTMENT OF LAND AND NATURAL RESOURCES

JOSH GREEN, M.D.
GOVERNOR

KE KIAʻĀINA

OFFICE OF THE MAYOR

RICK BLANGIARDI
MAYOR

KE KEʻENA O KA MEIA

JOINT NEWS RELEASE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 12, 2024

TRESPASSING AND UNSAFE ACTIVITIES DURING DECONSTRUCTION REQUIRES CLOSURE OF ALL ACCESS TO HA'IKŪ STAIRS

(HONOLULU) - The entire Moanalua Section of the Honolulu Watershed Forest Reserve and the Moanalua Valley Neighborhood Park will be closed during deconstruction of the Ha'ikū Stairs. Previously, the State Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) Division of Forestry and Wildlife (DOFAW) had closed the "Middle Ridge" area of the reserve for 90 days, or longer if necessary, for dismantling of the stairs.

"It has become increasingly clear that dozens of hikers have ignored the partial closure, which has resulted in dozens of citations being issued by officers from the Honolulu Police Department (HPD), and the DLNR Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement (DOCARE). Having people on the trails or in the area during this demolition project is extremely unsafe, thus the full closure is necessary, to protect public safety and our natural resources," said DLNR Chair Dawn Chang.

Discussions between DLNR, the City and County of Honolulu, and the demolition contractor led to the decision to close the entire forest reserve and neighborhood park.

"The removal of the Ha'ikū and Moanalua saddle stairs has raised significant safety, security, and well-being concerns within our community," said Austin Nakoa, president of the Nakoa Companies, Inc. "It is imperative that everyone understands the potential dangers associated with this ongoing removal. During flight operations, the state and City and County of Honolulu enforce a strict no-tolerance policy against individuals being on the trail. Unauthorized presence not only endangers personal safety but also poses serious risks to ongoing flight operations, as several sections of the stairs are no longer secured to the mountain."

He added, "We have posted signage and warnings along the trail. These are in place to inform you of restricted areas, ensuring your safety and compliance with Federal Aviation Agency regulations (Part 133-Rotorcraft External- Load Operations 133.33 Operating Rules (e). Adhering to these guidelines helps protect everyone and supports the safe conduct of essential flight activities. Cooperation is vital. By following these regulations, people contribute to the safety and security of our entire community."

Marigold Zoll, DOFAW O'ahu branch manager explained, "The Kamananui Valley Road, which leads to the back of the valley, is very popular for families and residents. We had hoped by just closing the Middle Ridge area that people use to access the top of the stairs, would have been enough to deter everyone. That has not happened and we're sorry that the actions of a few disrespectful individuals are impacting all. We are asking for patience during deconstruction of the stairs."

The popularity of the Middle Ridge "social trail" has created large erosion scars, and the route is inherently unsafe and damaging to the native forest. Adding in active helicopter operations exacerbates unsafe conditions and law enforcement will arrest or cite anyone who violates the closure. HPD and DOCARE are working together to keep people out, and military police at Tripler Army Medical Center, another access point, are also watching that area.

"If you are considering attempting to hike the Ha'ikū Stairs, I urge you to reconsider. Not only are you putting yourself at risk, but you're also endangering the lives of deconstruction and helicopter crews working in the area," added Mayor Rick Blangiardi. "Violating the closure could result in arrests or citations, with significant fines and potential jail time. This is an active deconstruction site and is not safe for hikers during this project. For the safety of everyone involved, please comply with the law. We don't want anyone getting hurt or worse."

"Since April, HPD officers have worked diligently to prevent individuals from accessing the Ha'ikū Stairs, resulting in multiple citations and arrests. We hope the closure of the neighborhood park and forest reserve will put an end to trespassing in the area," said Chief Joe Logan of the Honolulu Police Department. "Our primary concern is the safety and well-being of our community. We strongly urge everyone to respect the closures during this time."

# # #

RESOURCES

(All images and video courtesy: DLNR)

Video - "Middle Ridge" social trail (May 6, 2024):

https://vimeo.com/944224713

Photographs - Ha'ikū Stairs deconstruction closure (June 12, 2024):

https://www.dropbox.com/scl/fo/zfzirqok5c3999iik399x/AApMkkM7esk6Xis995b-Ykc?rlkey=kka570eulhww7aylymhjpof0g&st=8t6747ry&dl=0

(Editors please note: large sign with a map on the green gate reflects the previous closed area and is in the process of being removed.)

Media Contacts:

Dan Dennison
Communications Director
Hawai'i Dept. of Land and Natural Resources
808-587-0396
[email protected]

Patti Jette
Communications Specialist
Hawaiʻi Department of Land and Natural Resources
[email protected]
808-587-0396