The Stairway to Heaven, also known as Haiku Stairs, is facing closure after its owner, the Board of Water Supply, agreed in late February to commission a report to look into way to shut down the hiking trail. It’s been closed for 30 years and yet, hikers still illegally access the trail. Now a nonprofit group, Friends of Haiku Stairs, is actively reaching out to the public and to lawmakers to find ways to keep it open. Dr. Vernon Ansdell, president of Friends of Haiku Stairs, talked about it on Wake Up 2day.
This group is a non profit organization formed in 1987 with a mission to reopen historic Haiku Stairs in Windward Oahu to the general public and preserve it for future generations. “For many years we have organized regular work days on the Stairs where we remove invasive plants and promote the growth of native Hawaiian plants. In addition, we remove trash and perform basic maintenance work. Recently our work has been blocked by a requirement from the Board of Water Supply to have $1,000,000 insurance to work on the Stairs and although we now have the required insurance we are still waiting for approval to resume our work,” he backgrounded.
In October 2014 an advisory group on Haiku Stairs put together by Councilman Ikaika Anderson recommended the Stairs be reopened to the general public under managed access. Removing the Stairs was dismissed by the panel as unrealistic for several reasons.
Recent events in 2015 involving minor storm damage and missing hikers have revived calls to remove the Stairs. “These calls are completely misguided! It is very likely that if we had been able to continue our maintenance work we would have prevented the storm damage resulting from fallen invasive octopus trees. In addition, if the Stairs had been already been reopened under managed access, all the issues regarding missing hikers would almost certainly have also have been avoided,” says Ansdell.
“Estimates are that it will cost $4 to 5 million of our money to demolish this Windward treasure. It is a unique hiking trail, a world class attraction and a very valuable historic site. Removing the Stairs makes no sense! This would clearly be a very unfortunate and misguided decision,” Ansdell continues.
While Ansdell says the Friends commends the Board of Water Supply for actively seeking another City or State department to help to restore managed access to Haiku Stairs, keeping it open “is what the community wants and its the right thing to do. If you agree, please call your city, state and national elected leaders and encourage them to empower their departments to take action now,” he urges.
More information on this group at www.haikustairs.org. Background on the stair closure efforts at http://khon2.com/2015/02/23/bws-takes-first-step-to-demolish-haiku-stairs/.