In 2018 the Halema’uma’u Crater in Hawaii, had magma drain from it for several months causing many earthquakes and damage within the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. This National Park is located on the Big Island of Hawaii. Because of the unstable ground, many buildings within the park were damaged as well as roads and trails. Oftentimes National Parks are located in areas that are very sensitive to mother nature and are subject to many natural disasters. After natural disasters occur the National Park Service has an obligation to open our national treasures as soon as possible for the public to enjoy, including roads that many recreation users rely on to access the area. The following are all the projects being proposed through this planning process:
• Deconstruction of the Geochemistry Annex (Annex), Jaggar Museum, and Okamura building in the Uēkahuna Bluff area.
• Repair of the existing comfort station in the Uēkahuna Bluff area.
• Repair and improvements to the overlook in the Uēkahuna Bluff area.
• Construction of a natural surface trail and associated post and cable barrier to connect the overlook to Crater Rim Trail in the Uēkahuna Bluff area.
• Removal and replacement of the existing water tanks in the Uēkahuna Bluff area.
• Deconstruction of non-historic National Park Service office space in the park research area and relocation of National Park Service offices to former USGS Pacific Island Ecosystems Research Center (PIERC-KFS) buildings.
• Improvements to the existing park entrance and realignment of Crater Rim Drive, including addition of a roundabout to improve safety.
• Construction of a new USGS field station by the historic ball field near Kilauea Military Camp (KMC).
• Construction of a replacement visitor center with restrooms and a covered interpretive lānai and exhibits in the KVC/headquarters administration area.
• Development of parking, utilities, and other site infrastructure to serve the facilities of the proposed action and improve traffic flow.
• Replacement of exhibits and waysides at the visitor center and Uēkahuna area.
• Convert visitor use portion of KVC/HQ to space for park programs, special events, and K-12 educational programming.
• Enhancement of the loop trail at the KVC area to connect the visitor center to other visitor use amenities and overlooks.
BRC believes the NPS should move forward to re-open, improve and fix infrastructure that is needed to access these public lands. We appreciate that NPS is analyzing the environmental impacts of these repairs, and the balance of interests in this case favors moving forward with these critical repairs and upgrades. We will be sending our support for these projects, and we hope this doesn’t become a NEPA boondoggle where projects are held up for years. This should set a precedent in other National Parks, when roads are washed away or destroyed by volcanoes, NPS needs to swiftly rebuild what was damaged so the public can enjoy their parks and support the local economies. To learn more you can read the Project Proposal and also submit a comment by July 31, 2022.