WAILUKU — The National Park Service is considering implementing a wristband system as way to manage crowds at the popular Pools of Oheo on Maui.
Haleakala National Park closed the pools in the Kipahulu District indefinitely in January 2017 following a rockslide that injured a visitor.
The park has proposed options to address safety issues at the site as part of the Kipahulu comprehensive plan and environmental assessment. The other options include taking no action or permanently closing the pools to the public.
“It has been noted that the Pools of Oheo are among the most important attractions to the area, and visitors could take it upon themselves to create trails in seeking access,” the park service said in the plan. “In doing so, visitors have created three recreation sites at the pools, two of which were found to have a high level of recreation-related damage.”
About 800,000 people visit the Kipahulu District each year, according to the park service. Its waterfalls and pools had about 100 visitors each day.
Following the closure of the pools, the park spent about $100,000 to remove vegetation and loose debris and rocks. It also improved safety signage.
The pools have remained closed because the stream monitoring system is inoperative, park compliance coordinator Linette King told The Maui News. The system allows staff to anticipate when flash flooding might occur, allowing the evacuation of the pools during high water flows. The pools will reopen when the system is operational, she said.
Under the preferred plan, the park would limit the pools to no more than 117 people at one time and would contract to create a permit or reservation system using wristbands. Park staff would also continue adding safety signs and messaging.
The park service is taking public comment on the proposed plan through the end of October.