Iao Valley remains closed due to restoration work after 2016 flooding

Video still courtesy DLNR

The state reminds Maui residents and visitors that the Iao Valley State Monument and Kepaniwai Park remains closed while construction work is being done to repair damage done after last year’s flash flood.

A 100-year flood in September 2016 forced the closure of Iao and created conditions that are considered dangerous.

Hazardous natural conditions are now exacerbated by the presence of construction equipment and workers in Iao Valley State Monument.

Larry Pacheco, the Maui District Superintendent for State Parks, recently encountered a jogger who’d run all the way up Iao Valley Road and crossed in front of mechanized equipment working on a stream bank stabilization project. “Even though I was yelling at the guy to stop and watch out, he ignored my warnings and continued running in a closed construction zone,” he said.

He also had conversations with several groups of visitors on Thursday who were insistent on entering the park but later relented and left the area. Maui County employees report many similar incidents.

Homeowners who live at the head of the valley indicate cars turn around in the middle of a narrow bridge, block their driveways, and drivers, passengers, and pedestrians often ignore closed gates and closure signs. A hand-written sign, taped over a permanent sign, indicates homeowners will call the police if they see people trespassing.

Officers from the DLNR Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement have been asking trespassers to leave the park and have the discretion to cite offenders.

Video still courtesy DLNR
Video still courtesy DLNR
Video still courtesy DLNR
Video still courtesy DLNR

Currently a crane is being used for contractors to shoot shotcrete (concrete shot out of a hose at high velocity) on more than 400 feet of stream bank that was washed away and severely eroded during the flooding.

The flash flood in 2016 caused millions of dollars of damage to manmade structures like railings and pedestrian bridges and created serious erosion, stream channel and land movement. State Parks got emergency restoration funding and began clean-up and restoration operations within weeks of the flood.

“We have always said that we hope to reopen the park sometime in June 2017,” said State Parks Administrator Curt Cottrell, “and ask for everyone’s kokua to help make that happen by not trespassing into closed areas.”

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