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Saturday, May 13, 2000

Star-Bulletin - KHNL Hawaii News 8 Poll

Poll: 75% hold
state blameless for
Sacred Falls slide

But 53% say Sacred Falls
trail should stay shut

By Treena Shapiro


The Sacred Falls trail should remain closed following last year's rockslide, say about half the respondents in the latest Honolulu Star-Bulletin/NBC Hawaii News 8 Poll.

Poll pie charts"Who's to say it's not going to happen again," asked Liliha resident Cynthia Uaisele. "It was so unexpected and it happened so quickly."

Although three-quarters of poll respondents said the state should not be held liable for the rock-slide that killed eight people, Uaisele disagrees.

"They should have kept up with it, done a lot of problem solving, seeing what potential problems there were before something so tragic happened."

The poll, conducted by Mason-Dixon Polling & Research Inc., queried 426 registered voters statewide May 5 through 9. The margin for error is plus or minus 5 percentage points.

Brent Saiki does not believe the state was at fault. "They couldn't help it," he said. "They didn't know, right?" The 23-year-old Mililani resident said that he would hike the trail again if it were to reopen.

But Salt Lake resident Phyllis Ludwig said the state neglected the park. "I think that if they had taken more time checking it out, it wouldn't have happened."

But Ludwig still said the trail should be reopened if the state was "completely sure" it was safe.

Martha Hockaday of Lanikai said there probably are things that could be done to make the park safe, perhaps adding netting or digging out the rocks. "We do lots of mammoth things," she said. "Why not make it nice and safe again?"

For Lei Medeiros, the assurance would come from the approval of a geological expert. Although Medeiros hasn't been to Sacred Falls for years, she said she would go again. "All the rocks fell down," she said. "If the geological experts say it's pretty safe, (I would go)."

Curt Cottrell, trails and access manager for the Department of Land and Natural Resources, said the Sacred Falls Trail and the nearby Maakua Gulch trail will remain closed for now, giving the community time to heal.

"It's kind of in a purgatory until we get more of a community consensus on what the community would like to see," Cottrell said.

While no meetings are planned, Cottrell said the state will not make an executive decision without consulting the public. In the meantime, the state is conducting more comprehensive risk assessment on both closed trails.

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