State Continues to Warn Visitors Against Hiking at “Sacred Falls”

June 10, 2015, 3:00 PM HST · Updated June 10, 3:35 PM
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By Maui Now Staff

Four months after releasing an educational video on the dangers of hiking at Kaliuwaʻa or “Sacred Falls” in Hauʻula on Oʻahu, state officials say it appears the video may be helping to prevent trespassers at the site.  The area has been closed since a deadly rock fall incident in 1999 in which eight people were killed and several dozen were injured.

Authorities with the state Department of Land and Natural Resources, Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement say citations are down to zero from 11 reported at the site in February 2015, when the video was first released.  Prior to that, 120 people were cited last year and had to make court appearances and pay fines for ignoring closed and warning signs.

QRC Signs Added at long-closed Sacred Falls. Photo credit DLNR.

QRC Signs Added at long-closed Sacred Falls. Photo credit DLNR.

State officials say the video was produced to counter internet sites and blogs that continue to encourage visitation to the closed state park.

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This week, staff from the DLNR Division of State Parks added signs at various access routes to the park with a QRC (Quick Response Codes) that link directly to the informational video.

Several popular on-line and social media travel and attractions sites now feature a link to the video and voluntarily removed specific directions to the long-closed park from their web pages.

According to the DLNR, nearly 11,000 people have viewed the on-line video.

A video was produced by the state, warning of the dangers and risks associated with hiking the long-closed Sacred Falls trail. Photo credit DLNR.

A video was produced by the state, warning of the dangers and risks associated with hiking the long-closed Sacred Falls trail. Photo credit DLNR.

Curt Cottrell, the assistant administrator for the Division of State Parks said, “Based on our efforts to use social media to combat misinformation about the closed park, which seems to be effective from the number of hits, we are ramping up our efforts to better inform would-be visitors who arrive at Sacred Falls.”

He said the QRC signs are additions to “ample, existing signage,” warning of the dangers and closure. “If we can get people to scan the QRC with their phones and spend a few minutes viewing the video that clearly depicts the dangers, cultural sensitivity and penalties for trespass, it may convince them that entering and risking their lives, getting fined or doing jail time is simply a bad idea,” he said in a department press release.

Jason Redulla, acting DOCARE Chief said, “Despite all of our enforcement efforts, the video, and signs, some people will not heed all the warnings and continue to risk serious injury or death. It’s just not worth it.”

A video was produced by the state, warning of the dangers and risks associated with hiking the long-closed Sacred Falls trail. Photo credit DLNR.

A video was produced by the state, warning of the dangers and risks associated with hiking the long-closed Sacred Falls trail. Photo credit DLNR.

Here on Maui, county officials took a similar approach by releasing an ocean safety video and brochure to provide tips on venturing out into the water, and how to avoid dangerous situations. The video was released in February and came as the County recorded a total of 150 ocean drownings over 10 years between 2003 and 2013, most of them (72%) were non-residents, according to the “Visitor Safety: How are we doing?” report compiled by Dan Galanis with the Injury Prevention and Control section at the state Department of Health.

Mayor Alan Arakawa in a press release announcement. “Most of our residents have learned how to respect the power of the ocean and hopefully we can educate our visitors do the same. We encourage everyone to download and share this new safety guide to help communicate these important safety messages to all beach-goers.”

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