State urging hikers to stay off trails

If people feel they must go hiking in wet, rainy conditions that have persisted on the island unabated for nearly two months, ignoring their own safety, maybe they should consider the safety of those charged with rescuing them should anything happen to them, said one state official.

“We would ask people not to go hiking in weather,” said Peter Young, chair of both the state Department of Land and Natural Resources and state Board of Land and Natural Resources.

The slippery trails, potential for rock slides and flash floods might mean those using the trails (some of which are open, though the Na Pali Coast-Kalalau Trail is closed) could get injured, meaning rescuers might have to come and get them in less-than-ideal conditions, he said.

“Use common sense, common courtesy” for those who may have to rescue injured or lost hikers, he urged in a telephone interview.

“We’re not trying to stop people from enjoying the island or the place, but there are more appropriate times,” said Young, adding that DLNR Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement officers are urging, but not forcing, those they come across on state trails, to leave the trails for days of better weather.

Young continued his plea for people to stay out of brown water, whether it be in rivers or the ocean, or standing puddles on shore. “It’s not safe. Children (and adults) can get sick,” he said.

On other matters, Young said a report on the reservoirs of Kaua’i expected out last week is still not done, U.S. Geological Service monitoring of four reservoirs on the island continues, and that two reservoirs of particular interest to state officials, Twin Reservoir in Kapa’a and Alexander Dam in Kalaheo, are “areas of interest, and not (areas of) serious concern.”

Those two reservoirs are being continually monitored by DLNR Division of Forestry and Wildlife employees, he added.

In addition to damage to state and county roads, the ongoing rains have created havoc at other state-owned facilities, according to Young.

State DLNR leaders have been conducting almost-daily media briefings from the state Civil Defense Agency headquarters in Diamond Head Crater, and following is the latest information on some Kaua’i facilities, according to Young:

  • Waika’ea Canal (near Pono Kai Resort in Kapa’a): it is now shallower than before at the ocean side of the bridge due to soil deposited there, and silt has moved toward the ramp. Waika’ea Canal has gotten worse as the flooding went down the southern channel, and that pushed silt up and into the northern channel where the boat ramp is located. The worst-case scenario is that, after all the rain and flooding has subsided, the Waika’ea boat ramp will be unusable. The DLNR officials are part way through the planning phase of a dredging project for that site, and it may be possible to push for quicker action. Work won’t begin until the rains stop, he said;
  • Ke’e Beach (at Ha’ena State Park): DLNR Division of State Parks staff members informed their supervisors of erosion at Ke’e Beach in Ha’ena. The erosion was caused by rainwater that ran off the highway and surrounding area to create ditches about four feet to six feet deep, posing potential hazards to members of the public. Young said no mitigation work can be done there until the rain subsides;
  • Kealia Stream: the stream is about 15 feet to 20 feet above its normal level, to a point that it was about 10 feet to 15 feet away from a house;
  • Polihale road: DLNR staff members have received some bids to repair storm-related damage, but work cannot commence until the rain stops, Young said. The road and Polihale State Park remain closed.

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