KILAUEA — After nearly four months, today marks the re-opening of the Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge, just in the nick of time for their annual Lighthouse Day celebration.
Today’s opening begins at 10 a.m. and goes until 4 p.m., but Jennifer Waipa supervisory park ranger for the Refuge, said it’s best to arrive no later than 3:30.
On Saturday, the public is invited to attend the annual Lighthouse Day Celebration, which commemorates the completion and lighting of the Daniel Inouye Kilauea Point Lighthouse on May 1, 1913. The event runs from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., with the illumination of the lighthouse at 6:45 p.m.
Tours of the lighthouse will be offered every half hour, starting at 10:30 a.m. There will also be activities for the keiki, like temporary tattoos and a chance to get a Jr. Refuge Ranger badge, as well as live music and more.
Waipa said the refuge was closed due to the disintegrating state of a 100-foot long section of walkway between the Visitor Center and the Daniel K. Inouye Kilauea Point Lighthouse.
“It became obvious that in order to keep visitors safe and maintain access to the lighthouse, repairs needed to take place,” Waipa said.
The contractors, McMillen Jacobs Associates, drilled about 50 feet to remove the old wall and replace it with new, low walls on both the west and eastside. They re-fenced the wall and repaved the walkway from the fee collection booth to the bricks at the point.
“Repaving allowed re-contouring to capture rainwater runoff and direct it to a retention basin set in a ravine that will distribute the water evenly,” Waipa said.
While the refuge was closed, staff took the opportunity do some lighting and electrical upgrades and do some repainting. They also were able to upgrade lighting and fans in the Visitors Center, as well as the men’s bathroom and some of the railings around the Refuge.
“We look forward to welcoming the public back and are pleased to have this trail project completed on time, allowing us to open for the annual Lighthouse Day celebration,” said project leader Heather Tonneson in a news release.
In order to get ready for the big event, staff at the refuge brought on the students at Puukumu School to start a new generation of native plant growth at the project site. The plants were grown by the National Tropical Botanical Garden.
“Good people, great views, Hawaiian seabirds and plants will all be part of celebrating the new changes and Kauai’s old icon, the Kilauea Lighthouse,” Waipa said.