STAR-BULLETIN / MAY 1999
Flowers rest next to the Sacred Falls State Park sign. The park and trail have been closed since Mother's Day 1999 when a rockslide killed eight people.
Sacred Falls proposal would limit upper access
Sacred Falls master plan has access restrictions
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The state is set to unveil a draft master plan for Sacred Falls State Park that recommends limited access to the falls as the best way to ensure public safety.
The park has been closed since May 9, 1999, when a rockslide killed eight people and injured 50 others who had set out on a Mother's Day hike.
The plan suggests turning the upper portion of the park, including the falls, into a natural area reserve, to limit access to the falls, and reduce the risk of injury or death from rockfalls.
Creighton Mattoon, a member of the citizen advisory committee that helped draft the plan, likes the plan but said the issue of access could be a problem, particularly for native Hawaiians.
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Restricted access to Kaliuwaa, better known as Sacred Falls, may be a sticking point when a master plan for the park is presented to the public next week, said a member of the plan's citizens advisory committee.
WHERE TO GO
A public information meeting to discuss the master draft plan for Sacred Falls State Park will be held from 7 to 9 p.m. Tuesday at the Queen Liliuokalani Children's Center Windward unit at 53-516 Kamehameha Highway.
The draft plan is available online for download at http://hawaiistateparks.org/plans/index.cfm.
A hearing on the state's draft master plan for Sacred Falls State Park will be held Tuesday evening in Punaluu. The plan is a result of more than a year's worth of meetings between the state, community members and the Hawaiian Trail and Mountain Club.
The park and trail have been closed since Mother's Day 1999 when a rockslide killed eight people, including a 7-year-old girl, and injured 50 others.
Nearby Maakua Gulch was also closed because of the threat to public safety from future rockslides in the steep and narrow valleys.
In September 2002 state Judge Dexter Del Rosario ruled that the state was negligent in failing to adequately warn visitors of the rockfall hazards at Sacred Falls State Park.
The ruling came after a trial in a lawsuit filed against the state by families and estates of four of the people killed and several of those who were injured.
The draft master plan recommends that the upper area of the park be designated a natural area reserve to control access to the falls.
"Although the danger of rockfalls precludes the reopening of the Kaliuwa'a trail, open spaces within the park boundaries can be used to increase recreational and cultural opportunities in Ko'olauloa," the plan said.
"One significant component of the plan is the interpretation of the cultural history associated with Kaluanui Stream, Kaliuwa'a (the falls), and Kamapua'a (the pig demigod) and how it may be used for public education and awareness should a determination be made to open the park.
"Also, recreational opportunities include picnicking and hiking. An alternative ridge trail could lead to a removed, safe viewing point of the upper Kaliuwa'a Falls, perhaps the most spectacular waterfall on O'ahu," the plan said.
The plan also talks about charging user/and or parking fees to help defray operational costs.
Creighton Mattoon, a member of the advisory committee and vice chairman of the Koolauloa Neighborhood Board, said native Hawaiians historically hiked up to the falls to gather and hunt.
STAR-BULLETIN PHOTOS / MAY 2001
Gates are locked to an entrance to Sacred Falls. The park and trail have been closed since a Mother's Day 1999 rockslide, due to the threat to public safety from future rockslides in the steep and narrow valleys.
"I would say it's a good plan except for that one issue of access," said Mattoon, a native Hawaiian. "And I realize there's a risk factor. But the risk factor is for parks all over the world."
State Parks administrator Dan Quinn said there is a need to have a plan that addresses future public use of the area before it is reopened.
"Such a plan needs to both assess the risks associated with rockfalls and flash floods, and evaluate the existing natural, cultural and recreational resources and any actions needed to protect and enhance them," Quinn said in a release.
STAR-BULLETIN PHOTOS / MAY 2001
A view from the road of the mountain above Sacred Falls.
The advisory group is comprised of people from the Punaluu, Kaaawa, Hauula, Laie, Kahuku and Kahana communities, as well as the Koolauloa Neighborhood Board and the trail club.
"We're looking forward to the community meeting that's coming up," Mattoon said. "There will be some people who will want access to the falls, even if there are some safety conditions established for doing so."