Letter to Editor: Continued Closure of ʻOheʻo Pools Hurting Environment, Economy
*Opinion pieces, analyses and letters are intended to provide a diverse range of views from our community. They are not intended to represent the views of Maui Now.
Letter to the Editor by Lauren Blickley
For the better part of four months, ʻOheʻo Pools in Kīpahulu have been closed to the public due to stolen (and then broken) stream monitoring equipment.
Part of Haleakalā National Park, ‘Ohe‘o is one of the few pools open and accessible to the public – not only on Maui but throughout the state of Hawai‘i.
In a recent phone conversation, Park officials indicated that the pools would reopen in the next few days, although additional details were not forthcoming.
While public safety is of the utmost importance, officials are encouraged to prioritize the re-opening of the pools.
Their continued closure has not only frustrated residents and visitors, but is resulting in unintended social, economic, and environmental consequences.
Unable to access ʻOheʻo, adventure seekers are striking out on their own, and in doing so, traversing private property and trampling through native forests. Not to mention, increased exploration off the beaten trail leads to a greater number of individuals who could find themselves in potentially dangerous situations (as recent YouTube videos of stranded hikers have shown).
Furthermore, those areas that are safe to access are being overused (e.g. Twin Falls, Kaihalulu “Red Sand” Beach). As visitors discover that the pools are closed, they are also opting to bypass Hāna altogether, impacting the local economy.
Of course it is understandable if heavy rains force the Park to close ʻOheʻo, but continuing to delay re-opening, while also not providing public transparency, is hurting more than just Park numbers.