BREAKING: ‘Īao Valley State Monument “Soft Re-Opening” Set for Saturday
ʻĪao Valley State Monument will be open to the public again at 7 a.m. on Saturday, Aug. 5, 2017, following Phase I of repairs after a severe flood that caused millions of dollars in damage throughout the valley in September of last year.
The “soft re-opening” is only temporary until additional required permits are finalized for additional work involving the stabilization of a slope just downhill from the garden area.
Officials with the state parks division of the Department of Land and Natural Resources say they believe they have addressed all of the previously described safety concerns and various other issues throughout the park to allow for the temporary re-opening.
Crews have been working to stabilize the slopes along the valley’s access road and parking area that were impacted by the historic flood that occurred on Sept. 13, 2016.
ʻĪao Valley State Monument will be open from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. starting on Saturday, Aug. 5, 2017. The county’s Kepaniwai Park below the Hawaiʻi Nature Center has been open since April, 2017, after seven month closure. The Kepaniwai hours are from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Additional Information (courtesy Hawaiʻi Department of Land and Natural Resources):
State Parks Administrator Curt Cottrell said, “We thank the Maui community and visitors for their patience and understanding during the park closure, but we still need to complete further safety measures later this year. We believe these improvements and repairs will provide our park users and visitors with the assurance that their health and safety are our top priorities.”
Cottrell added, “We coordinated with the tour industry and the local community to inform them on our repair plans, and consulted with the ‘Aha Moku representatives to ensure that the mitigation work was consistent with cultural values and protocols. A private blessing with ‘Aha Moku representatives and parties involved in the restoration took place today, to ensure public safety, and that we honor the place we are reopening tomorrow.”
As a demonstration of the collaborative relationship between state parks and tour industry to benefit the community, Polynesian Adventure Tours is intentionally not scheduling its bus tours for the first week after ‘Iao opens, to allow the community to visit without the buses returning.
Contractor Vares Contracting began work on February 13, 2017 to remove green waste, concrete debris and railings. Maui Kupono Builders, LLC did interim slope stabilization in the Wailuku River (‘Iao Stream). Visitors will see a significant change to the slopes of the now wider river, which now sport a revetment of stacked rocks and 300-400 feet worth of Shotcrete slope coating to prevent loose material from falling down.
Changes to the parking lot include restriping and installation of flexible traffic delineators, as well as installation of a green security guardrail fencing at various locations to keep buses only within the upper parking area, and warning signs to prevent people from getting close to the stream’s edge. This work was performed by Vares Contracting.
A pedestrian corridor has been marked with striping, and surface repairs were made to the pathways leading to the Hawaiian Garden and to the summit lookout. The park comfort station and upper lookout hale have been painted.
Maui Kupono Builders, LLC also did repairs to the iconic pedestrian bridge over Kinihapai Stream, which received a new support structure.
The Hawaiian Garden is open, with new security fencing installed to keep people away from a section of its walkway which collapsed beyond repair due to the flood.
The flood also caused severe damage to, and removed the lower large loop trail that previously ran along the streamside. Although it was cleaned up, it will remain fenced off and closed for public safety. State Parks is considering options for ways to make it safe for the public to enjoy.
The Division of State Parks will hold a community meeting later this year to explain a second phase of additional streamside slope stabilization and improvements requiring park closure again. Total project cost is $1,837,341.
‘Iao Valley State Monument is among the top attractions on Maui and sees hundreds of thousands of visitors each year. The flash flood in 2016 caused millions of dollars of damage to manmade structures like railings and pedestrian bridges and created serious erosion, stream channel and land movement. State Parks obtained emergency restoration funding and began clean-up and restoration operations within weeks of the flood.