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Tuesday, November 14, 2023

Kaʻū News Briefs Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2023

The beach at Halapē is one of the backcountry places where overnight permits allow camping and hiking in Hawai‘i
Volcanoes National Park with reservations available online starting Dec. 14. NPS Photo by Jessica Ferracane

BACKCOUNTRY OVERNIGHT HIKING PERMITS WILL BE AVAILABLE ONLINE through Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park, starting next month, Dec. 14. Hikers who plan to stay overnight in the remote backcountry of the Park will be able to make and pay for reservations online up to 90 days in advance through the Recreation.gov system.
A hiker in the distance walks on hardened pāhoehoe lava toward the backcountry
trailhead at Mau Loa o Maunaulu. NPS Photo by Jessica Ferracane
    More than 250,000 acres of Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park are managed as wilderness and are only accessible on foot. Each of the parkʻs eight backcountry sites (Halapē, Keauhou, Kaʻaha, ʻĀpua, Pepeiao, Nāpau, Mauna Loa Summit and Red Hill Cabin) are in remote wilderness areas and "present challenging hikes. Each site offers its own distinct beauty with cultural and natural resources most visitors never experience," says the Park statement. "Preparation and knowing one's limits are critical for an enjoyable backcountry visit. A backcountry planner, safety tips and detailed information about each backcountry site is available on the park website."
    Reservation holders will still be required to check in up to seven days ahead of their trip to pick up their permit and to get a safety briefing at the Backcountry Office, which is open 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. every day including holidays.   
    Currently, backcountry overnight hikers can get a permit seven days in advance. Visitors to the new Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park Backcountry Permits page on Recreation.gov will be able to make reservations 90 days in advance of their planned trek. Seventy-five percent of the backcountry permits will be available online. The remaining 25% will be available in person at the Backcountry Office seven days before the start date. 
Keauhou Trail looking south towards remote wilderness and coastline.
NPS Photo by Jessica Ferracane

    Backcountry permits will still be available for walk-ins at the Backcountry Office, but payment must be made through the Recreation.gov system. All backcountry permits are $10 in addition to the park entrance fee payable by debit or credit card. The park's Backcountry Office will no longer accept cash payments.  
    "We are excited to offer a new online tool that gives local and out-of-state backpackers the option to make their backcountry adventure plans 90 days in advance," said Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park Chief Ranger Jack Corrao. "Many backcountry enthusiasts have asked us to provide greater flexibility in our permitting system and Recreation.gov allows us to do that."   
    About the National Park Service: " More than 20,000 National Park Service employees care for America's  425 national parks and work with communities across the nation to help preserve local history and create close-to-home recreational opportunities. See www.nps.gov and on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube.  

POLICE ARRESTED 12 FOR DUI the week of Nov. 6 - 12. They arrested the motorists for driving under the influence of an intoxicant. Two were involved in a traffic collision. One was under the age of 21. So far this year, there have been 825 DUI arrests compared with 860 during the same period last year, a decrease of 4.1 percent.
    Hawai‘i Police Department’s Traffic Services Section reviewed all updated crashes and found 732 major collisions so far this year, compared with 719 during the same period last year, an increase of 1.8 percent.
    To date, there have been 15 fatal crashes, resulting in 16 fatalities, (one of which had multiple deaths); compared with 30 fatal crashes, resulting in 32 fatalities (one of which had multiple deaths, and one was reclassified to a medical condition) for the same time last year. This represents a decrease of 50 percent for fatal crashes, and 50 percent for fatalities.
    To date, the non-traffic fatality count (not on a public roadway) so far this year is one compared to zero non-traffic fatalities for the same time last year.
    Police promise that DUI roadblocks and patrols will continue island-wide.

FIRE WEATHER RED FLAG WARNING is canceled for Kaʻū and the rest of leeward Hawai‘i and the interior. However, the Wind Advisory is extended for Kaʻū, Puna, Huamakua, North and South Kohala and the interior. County of Hawai‘i Civil Defense urges an exercise of caution as dry conditions will continue to persist.
    For wildfire preventive actions, visit the Hawai‘i Wildfire Management Organization website at https://www.hawaiiwildfire.org/home. For more information, visit County of Hawai‘i Hazard Impact Map.

Home schooler Jack Olson won the Department of Water Supply first place in the Kindergarten category for
the annual Water Conservation Poster Contest. Image from DWS

THE PROJECTED EXTENDED DROUGHT has prompted the county Department of Water Supply to make preparations, undertaking "a multi-phased strategy aimed at meeting customers’ and the public’s essential drinking water needs during the ongoing islandwide drought that weather experts predict will extend well into 2024." 
    The statement released Wednesday says that "Providing customers with an adequate and reliable supply of safe drinking water in a financially responsible manner is DWS’ mission. Fulfilling this mission becomes more challenging when reduced rainfall creates severe or extreme drought conditions which the  U.S. Drought Monitor reports are now occurring."                                                          
    See https://droughtmonitor.unl.edu/CurrentMap/StateDroughtMonitor.aspx?HIIt says DWS’ drought strategy includes the following:

Keriah Wong took first in the sixth-grade category of Department of
Water Keiki Water Conservation Poster Contest. Image from DWS

  Participating with partners in a Hawai‘i County Water Needs working group convened by the Civil Defense Agency to prepare for the extended dry weather conditions;
    Conserving water storage, where possible, to meet anticipated demands, including fire protection;
    Preparing to establish temporary services from select fire hydrants so approved commercial water haulers will have more sites from which to draw potable water to assist those on personal rainwater catchment systems;
    Considering adding additional public spigot locations to make water access more convenient and available for people not served by a DWS water system;
    Utilizing generators to power crucial water facilities during temporary electrical outages;
    Continuing to promote water conservation and restriction notices, including mandating, if warranted, customers to limit their water use to only essential needs (drinking, cooking, personal hygiene, sanitation);
    Issuing timely notices informing customers how their water service could be or is being impacted by extended drought and/or red flag warning conditions;
    Posting updated messaging at www.hawaiidws.org and on the DWS Facebook page at www.facebook.com/HawaiiDWS/; and
    Closely monitoring both the Department’s 23 public water systems and the latest weather forecasts to remain informed and prepared for potential impacts.
    DWS says that "water customers can do their part to use drinking water wisely and prevent waste."
    For helpful water conservation tips, please visit www.hawaiidws.org/conservation-resources/. To reach the DWS, please call (808) 961-8050 during normal business hours, (808) 961-8790 for afterhour emergencies, or email: dws@hawaiidws.org.

7,500 printed, 5,000 in the mail.