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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Tuesday, April 17, 2001

Access to nature must be preserved

State parks officials have quietly — and quite appropriately — begun a series of talks with the local community about reopening Sacred Falls park to visitors and residents.

The park was the site of a disastrous rock slide two years ago that killed eight people and injured others. It has been closed since.

If a plan can be found that allows visitors to visit the falls in relative safety, it should be reopened. One of Hawai'i's most precious assets is our natural environment. To the greatest extent possible, access to that environment must be preserved and enhanced.

Yes, getting out and into nature presents some level of danger. But it would be impossible to make every experience entirely safe, entirely without risk.

The best we can do is balance risk against opportunity. In the case of Sacred Falls, this may mean allowing access, but on a limited or supervised basis. It may mean stabilizing the cliff face, or erecting barriers to keep people away from the hazard of falling rock.

The state is not rushing into a decision on future use of the park, and that's proper. But the underlying goal of these community discussions must be on how access to this beautiful area can be — within the bounds of reasonable safety — preserved.