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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Saturday, February 2,2002

Manoa Falls trail closed because of landslides

By Curtis Lum
Advertiser Staff Writer

The popular Manoa Falls trail was closed for an indefinite period yesterday after state officials discovered at least three landslides at the falls.

Forestry and Wildlife administrator Mike Buck said he couldn't recall the trail ever closing because of a landslide. The trail was closed twice in 2000 while crews removed a large tree that fell across it during heavy rains.

Buck said yesterday's closure was the result of vegetation that lined the wall of a waterfall sliding into the water during the recent heavy rains. He said debris had collected in two other areas above the falls and might be a hazard.

"It's so steep and the soil is so thin, it's almost like a skin just peeling away," Buck said. "Some other things look loose and they're being held up by trees, but that just adds more weight to the existing trees and, depending on the stability, it could just come down in the next rainfall."

The state put up signs and barricades at the falls. Enforcement officers also will patrol the area to prevent trespassing.

State geologists will inspect the falls today and determine what actions, if any, will be taken to clear the debris. Buck said the state may wait for more rain to dislodge the debris.

He said the landslides did not reach any of the trails and posed a hazard to hikers only if they entered the water beneath the falls.

Buck said the state closed the trail to avoid any potential problems. He cited the Mother's Day 1999 rock slide at Sacred Falls State Park that killed eight people as playing a key role in closing the trail.

"If someone hiked the trail and didn't walk into the pond and stayed behind where they should be, there probably wouldn't be any problem. But people just don't do that," he said.

"We're just erring towards the conservative."