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Tuesday, December 12, 2023

Kaʻū News Briefs December 12, 2023

Mayor Walks for Merry Christmas in Pāhala
Mayor Mitch Roth and First Lady Noriko Yamada Roth walk the inaugural Pāhala Town Lighted Christmas Parade last Saturday along side the County of Hawai'i float. See more photos of event in upcoming Kaʻū News Briefs. Photo by Stacyn Lopez Sakuma

PĀHALA IS THE FIRST FULLY FIBER-ENABLED ZIP CODE ON THE ISLAND. That is the announcement from Hawaiian Telcom on Tuesday. Pāhala has access to Hawaiian Tel's "reliable high-speed internet Fioptics that that offers 1 gigabit per second (Gbps) download, which is among the fastest speeds in Hawai'i, and the state's fastest upload speed of 500 megabits per second (Mbps)."
    In addition, Hawaiian Tel reminds residents that they may qualify for support to receive free internet through 
August 2024.
     Installation of the fiber internet service was an effort in "closing the state's digital divide," where wealthier, more populated places have good internet and rural, less wealthy areas are underserved, said Hawaiian Tel.
   The statement from Hawaiian Tel says, "Part of the Kaʻū District, Pāhala is a former sugar plantation town that is now home to many family-owned farms and ranches. It is considered one of the most remote, rural areas in Hawai'i. Hawaiian Telcom's fiber expansion extends into Na'alehu, including Wai'ōhinu Town and the Discovery Harbor subdivision, both of which incorporate some Hawaiian Home Lands."
   Other zip codes fully enabled with Hawaiian Tel Fiber include 96763 at Lāna'i City; 96751 at Kealia, Kaua'i; and 96765 at Lāwa'i, Kaua'i.

Kaʻū Desert Trail from Footprints Exhibit
to Pepeio Cabin and beyond has reopened.
NPS Photo by Jessica Ferracane

TWO ROADS, A BACKCOUNTRY TRAIL AND CABIN have reopened in Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park.
    Thanks to recent rainfall, wildland fire risk has decreased and Mauna Loa Road and Hilina Pali Road are now fully open to vehicles. Campfire and open flame cooking fire restrictions are also lifted in areas that allow them. Although the risk for wildfire is low, visitors are reminded to recreate responsibly. Campfires and cooking fires should be completely extinguished and are only allowed in specific areas of Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park.
     Kaʻū Desert Trail past the Footprints exhibit to Pepeiao Cabin, Hilina Pali overlook and the coastal backcountry areas has also reopened. The cabin is also open for overnight use with a permit. In addition, the backcountry trail crew recently cleared overgrown vegetation from the trail between Pepeiao Cabin and Hilina Pali overlook.
    The park temporarily closed Pepeiao Cabin and much of Kaʻū Desert Trail in October because of increased seismicity in the area south-southwest of Kīlauea caldera. Kīlauea volcano is not erupting but the unrest continues. According to USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory scientists, most of the earthquakes are now focused a cluster just southeast of Kaluapele (Kīlauea summit caldera).

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PUBLIC INPUT FOR HAWAI'I VOLCANOES NATIONAL PARK is sought, including review and comment on recommendations for improving in-park access and timeframes to implement changes and such improvements as upgrades to park structures, programs and services. The document is called Draft Accessibility Self-Evaluation and Transition Plan
    The stated goals of the plan are to "document existing park barriers to accessibility for people with disabilities; provide an effective approach for upgrading facilities, services, activities, and programs; and instill a culture around creating universal access."
    The document is set to become available this week for public review and comment, following work by an NPS
Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park Superintendent Rhonda
Low invites the public to comment on the Park plan.
NPS photo by Janice Wei
interdisciplinary team, including individuals with expertise in planning, design, construction, and interpretive, resource, visitor safety, maintenance, and accessibility specialists. The team developed site plans identifying the location of accessibility barriers and crafted an implementation strategy to assist park staff in scheduling and performing required actions and documenting completed work.
    "It is important that visitors of all abilities are able to enjoy the incredible experience that Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park offers," said Superintendent Rhonda Loh. "This plan describes our proposed strategy to provide a welcoming and inclusive environment in popular locations throughout the park. We look forward to hearing from you."
    The Draft Accessibility Self-Evaluation and Transition Plan was prepared to provide analysis and an opportunity for public review and comment. The link to the draft plan is available on the NPS Planning, Environment and Public Comment website at https://parkplanning.nps.gov/HAVO-SETP.
    Comments may be submitted online at the project website by clicking on "Open for Comment." Comments will be accepted through Jan. 11, 2024.
    All comments, including personal identifying information, may be made publicly available at any time. Although respondents may request that their comments and personal information are withheld from public review, the park cannot guarantee that it will be able to do so.
    For more information on Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park, visit the park website, www.nps.gov/hawaiivolcanoes.

NPS Photo of a person in a wheelchair being assisted on a wooden boardwalk through a steaming volcanic landscape.