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Thread: Koko Crater Trail closed today

  1. #1
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    Default Koko Crater Trail closed today

    This is by me, I sent it to the media and to the Hawaii Kai Neighborhood Board, and area government officials (while still looking for a writing/editing job, I thought I'd throw a little political activism into my day. drumming fingers, drumming fingers).

    Koko Crater Trail closed to fitness enthusiasts today

    HAWAII KAI (Feb. 15, 2008)--This morning, signs were erected declaring the trail to the summit of Koko Crater off limits, ostensibly because of danger from the firing range a quarter-mile away.

    Hundreds of people regularly walk this particular trail. If one counts visitors, it's thousands. To our knowledge, there is no record of anyone getting shot, grazed or ricocheted at while exercising along the trail or while sightseeing. On the rare occasions when the fire helicopter has to pluck someone off the trail, it tends to be over-exertion at issue.

    Some exercise enthusiasts have been climbing this trail for more than four decades, since before Koko Head District Park was established. Some go daily as part of their exercise routine. Some go for the spectacular views that span Oahu's Windward Coast to Diamond Head, and even to the Neighbor Islands when the skies are especially clear.

    The closure of the trail was done without community input.

    If hikers to the Koko Head summit truly are in danger from the firing range, then so are the nearby residential neighborhoods. The population in Hawaii Kai is growing, which means our government leaders should seriously consider shutting down the firing range. Healthy outdoor exercise and an unparalleled view, or potentially deadly firearms? Hmmm, which is more compatible with a residential area?

    On the other hand, if the firing range, contained within a crater, does not in fact pose a real danger to Koko Crater hikers or the surrounding neighborhoods, then maybe what needs to go is whomever cynically sought to use the issue to shut down a popular outdoor recreation area.

    The situation brings to mind the debacle of the Haiku "Stairway to Heaven" and its restoration and subsequent official closure, widely flouted. But where there are legitimate issues of parking and access in that situation, such issues do not exist at the Koko Crater trail, which is adjacent to Koko Head District Park.

    The reaction on the part of Koko Crater regulars is outrage. Fridays are a busy day at the trail, where many of the climbers try to go up and down in as short a time as possible. Throughout the day, there will no doubt be people willing to provide their reaction to this unfair and unilateral decision. Many want to know WHO made this decision. Many hope this ill-advised move will be rethought.

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    Exclamation Re: Koko Crater Trail closed today

    What a Bummer!
    I've gone up there quite a few times over the years.

    As I remember it...
    the firing range faces the opposite direction
    of the park and trail areas?

    Check out this link.
    http://www.geocaching.com/seek/cache...5-ce4e4f9d4735
    Attached Images Attached Images
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    Default Re: Koko Crater Trail closed today

    FYI:
    The Hawaii Kai Hui is conducting a 5 p.m. press conference there today, if any one wants to add to the noise!

    If you see me, please introduce yourself!!

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    Exclamation Re: Koko Crater Trail closed today

    I used Google Earth to capture the image in link below.
    There are multiple sets of rifle ranges. Some face Koko Head,
    while others face towards Hanauma Bay direction.

    The shooters are supposed to be aiming fairly level.
    They would have to fire one off at an extreme upwards angle to even remotely come close to hitting someone.

    Check the photo...
    http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2102/...1a189f69_o.jpg
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    Default Re: Koko Crater Trail closed today

    The Advertiser posted your story just before 2pm.
    Good luck at the meeting!
    .
    .

    That's my story, and I'm sticking to it.

  6. #6

    Default Re: Koko Crater Trail closed today

    As you drive into the shooting range facility, immediately to your right is the new archery range. Next is the silhouette range for long range handgun shooting, then comes the rifle range which can handle targets out to some 250+yds. A few of the target shooters have mounted steel targets further up the hill. After the rifle range is the pistol range.

    As you make the circuit and come around, to your right is the old pistol range which is now the trap range. Next is the skeet range and then 2 general purpose ranges used by several shooting clubs as well as the police department.

    There is only one rifle range. That range and the pistol range are the only two venues where shooters shoot towards the side of Kokohead where the trail is.

    In 1928, Bernice Pauahi Bishop and the City and County of Honolulu made an agreement for the purchase of the crater for the use as a public park and for no other purpose. Cost the City and County all of a buck back then.

    In 1950, the National Guard was ALREADY using the crater as a shooting range. All but forgotten, the C&C Dept. of Parks and Rec. discovered that they owned that property and promptly booted the NG out and took over the facility as a shooting range during that year.

    Just some history off their website.

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    Thumbs up Re: Koko Crater Trail closed today

    Major Update!

    Updated at 5:28 p.m., Friday, February 15, 2008

    City backtracks, will take down Koko Crater signs

    Advertiser Staff


    Newly installed signs stating that a popular Koko Crater trail is off limits to the public will be taken down immediately because community stakeholders were not properly consulted before they were installed, City Parks Director Les Chang said late this afternoon.

    Chang said the signs had been installed because of safety concerns, but that he had acted prematurely by having them posted with consulting the community first.

    The signs will be removed as soon as possible, he said.

    Criticism from hikers began today as soon as the signs were erected at the heavily used trail.

    Now to see what happens next...
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    Default Re: Koko Crater Trail closed today

    What's odd is that just five minutes before the release that MM posted above, there was this statement from the same person:
    City Parks Director Les Chang issued the following statement this afternoon regarding signs posted today at Koko Head Regional Park that cite the danger of live fire from a nearby rifle range:

    The signs were posted because use of the old railroad tracks can be dangerous and is a serious public safety issue.

    Stray bullets could inadvertently be pointed in that direction. The lower ridge is in range of weapons used.

    This area is not a trail. The abandoned railroad tracks were never an open part of the Koko Head Regional Park complex. The concern of people walking up the ridge behind an active shooting range has been a long-time one. Over the years, however, it has become a trail more and more people use. Although there hasn't been a reported incident, the significant increase in hiking on the old railroad tracks raised a significant concern for an increase risk of an accident, and one would be one too many.

    The issue we at the Parks Department face is to either close the shooting range or to discourage and make people aware of the significant danger they face when hiking up the abandoned railroad tracks, and we've opted for the latter.
    Yet five minutes later Chang announces the removal of the signs.
    Must be a full moon.
    .
    .

    That's my story, and I'm sticking to it.

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    Default Re: Koko Crater Trail closed today

    In today's Advertiser and today's Star-Bulletin there are stories regarding the trail.
    It will be discussed at the Hawaii Kai Neighborhood Board meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2008, at Hahaione School, 7 p.m. If you need directions, let me know. Testimonies are generally limited to two minutes.

  10. #10

    Default Re: Koko Crater Trail closed today

    Can't they close the shooting range instead?

    /Yeah, I'm a pinko liberal.

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    Default Re: Koko Crater Trail closed today

    Quote Originally Posted by Vanguard View Post
    Can't they close the shooting range instead?

    /Yeah, I'm a pinko liberal.
    If it comes to that, then HPD, the FBI, DEA, etc., along with gun and rifle clubs in Hawaii, should take their anger out on the parks guy who put the magnifying glass on them. Let's see: A beneficial, beautiful hike for those in the pursuit of a healthy lifestyle or the perpetuation of East Oahu as Hawaii's new Kahoolawe?

    Until these signs were posted, neither hikers nor firing range users brought this issue up. The concern was always there, but there are rules and regulations regarding the firing of weapons at the range. No one has been hurt, no one has become disoriented and wandered off trail and into the firing range.

    It is possible that nature-loving hikers and health enthusiasts and white-knuckled gun fans can get along. In this instance, I actually think they might have the same goal: Leave well enough alone.

  12. #12

    Default Re: Koko Crater Trail closed today

    Quote Originally Posted by lavagal View Post
    If it comes to that, then HPD, the FBI, DEA, etc., along with gun and rifle clubs in Hawaii, should take their anger out on the parks guy who put the magnifying glass on them. Let's see: A beneficial, beautiful hike for those in the pursuit of a healthy lifestyle or the perpetuation of East Oahu as Hawaii's new Kahoolawe?

    Until these signs were posted, neither hikers nor firing range users brought this issue up. The concern was always there, but there are rules and regulations regarding the firing of weapons at the range. No one has been hurt, no one has become disoriented and wandered off trail and into the firing range.

    It is possible that nature-loving hikers and health enthusiasts and white-knuckled gun fans can get along. In this instance, I actually think they might have the same goal: Leave well enough alone.
    I certainly agree with your last paragraph though I think you are being unnecessarily inflammatory by referring to the Koko Head shooting range as East Oahu's Kahoolawe in your opening. The reference diminishes the reality of what Kahoolawe was used for and incorrectly implies a similar circumstance.

    We frequent the shooting range and it has been used as such since the 1930s. It is the only public shooting range on the island of Oahu. There are a dozens, if not hundreds, of hiking trails on the island and health enthusiasts have many options as well. Shooting sports enthusiasts don't. On any given day you can see a great cross section of our community at the shooting range: families, hunters, school teams, law enforcement types and gun collectors from all socio-economic and ethnic backgrounds. You should take the time to go see what happens at the shooting range and talk to some of the people. If you are interested in learning more, send me an pm and I'd be happy to show you around and introduce you to some "white-knuckled gun fans".

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    Default Re: Koko Crater Trail closed today

    Quote Originally Posted by Menehune Man View Post
    Chang said the signs had been installed because of safety concerns, but that he had acted prematurely by having them posted with consulting the community first.
    The signs will be removed as soon as possible, he said.
    So does this mean that nobody's going to get shot?
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    Default Re: Koko Crater Trail closed today

    Quote Originally Posted by glossyp View Post
    We frequent the shooting range and it has been used as such since the 1930s. It is the only public shooting range on the island of Oahu. There are a dozens, if not hundreds, of hiking trails on the island and health enthusiasts have many options as well. Shooting sports enthusiasts don't. On any given day you can see a great cross section of our community at the shooting range: families, hunters, school teams, law enforcement types and gun collectors from all socio-economic and ethnic backgrounds. You should take the time to go see what happens at the shooting range and talk to some of the people. If you are interested in learning more, send me an pm and I'd be happy to show you around and introduce you to some "white-knuckled gun fans".

    The idea of closing down the shooting range was not brought up by me. I have spoken with gun enthusiasts who use it and have some in my family here on Oahu who frequent it. My point is that the person who took the uniliateral action of posting the signs put the gun enthusiasts more at risk than he did the hikers, and I think that was not his/her intention. I think his intention was to hell with the hikers. Why should the hikers put up with that? And how many trail areas have such generous parking near them? Think about all the baseball fields even closer than the trail to the firing range. What if a baseball player or a fan or child hanging out while the games are being played gets hit with a bullet? Maybe we should shut down the entire park area to protect the gun range. In fact, my home is less than a mile from the gun range. Maybe I should be ordered out of my house, along with my hundreds of neighbors, to protect the gun range.

    When I write "white-knuckled gun fans" I am referring to an old 80's era NRA bumper sticker created in reference to the possibility of gun-control legislation. Something like, you can take my gun when you unwrap my cold-dead fingers off it, or something to that effect. I guess my attempt at a clever turn of phrase backfired, so to speak.

    I have an appreciation for people who pursue interests different from my own, and that's why none of my statements ever indicated that the rifle range be closed. In the previous grafs here, I am only throwing out suppositions, and not actually stating that the range be closed.

    I suppose I'm just another flaming pinko liberal on this list, so be it.

  15. #15

    Default Re: Koko Crater Trail closed today

    Quote Originally Posted by lavagal View Post
    The idea of closing down the shooting range was not brought up by me. I have spoken with gun enthusiasts who use it and have some in my family here on Oahu who frequent it. My point is that the person who took the uniliateral action of posting the signs put the gun enthusiasts more at risk than he did the hikers, and I think that was not his/her intention. I think his intention was to hell with the hikers. Why should the hikers put up with that? And how many trail areas have such generous parking near them? Think about all the baseball fields even closer than the trail to the firing range. What if a baseball player or a fan or child hanging out while the games are being played gets hit with a bullet? Maybe we should shut down the entire park area to protect the gun range. In fact, my home is less than a mile from the gun range. Maybe I should be ordered out of my house, along with my hundreds of neighbors, to protect the gun range.

    When I write "white-knuckled gun fans" I am referring to an old 80's era NRA bumper sticker created in reference to the possibility of gun-control legislation. Something like, you can take my gun when you unwrap my cold-dead fingers off it, or something to that effect. I guess my attempt at a clever turn of phrase backfired, so to speak.

    I have an appreciation for people who pursue interests different from my own, and that's why none of my statements ever indicated that the rifle range be closed. In the previous grafs here, I am only throwing out suppositions, and not actually stating that the range be closed.

    I suppose I'm just another flaming pinko liberal on this list, so be it.
    You ignore the point that I actually agreed with you that the status quo was fine. I objected to you equating the shooting range to Kahoolawe. The park employee/s who posted the sign sure stirred a hornet's nest and maybe that was the intention. Clearly, your concern is your personal interests and your neighborhood which is understandable. My concern is that the only public place to enjoy shooting sports is potentially at risk. As for tagging yourself as a "flaming pinko liberal", it's your call, not mine, though I think such terms are unhelpful in moving discussions forward. Concern about public safety and legal recreational activities is not exclusive to any particular political orientation.

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    Default Re: Koko Crater Trail closed today

    Point taken re Kahoolawe. I think some would have a better argument by saying that about Makua Valley, actually.
    It is a hornets' nest. But every thing was OK with the hikers and the gun enthusiasts until someone with a limited thought capacity decided on the sign verbage. I wonder if we will ever learn how it got approved. Police officers at our gathering yesterday said there was no legal way to enforce it. Lesson to all: Unilateral decisions don't fly.

    I would like to add that ultimatums from bureaucrats should always be questioned.
    Last edited by lavagal; February 16th, 2008 at 04:33 PM.

  17. #17

    Default Re: Koko Crater Trail closed today

    Quote Originally Posted by lavagal View Post
    I would like to add that ultimatums from bureaucrats should always be questioned.
    A hearty "AMEN!" to that! Especially ones that aren't even elected. I hope there can be a positive resolution - maybe it's a case where it will all just kind of quietly fade away and things will go back to as they had been. I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

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    Post Re: Koko Crater Trail closed today

    Quote Originally Posted by lavagal View Post
    Police officers at our gathering yesterday said there was no legal way to enforce it.
    Hmmm, now that is interesting.

    Why can't we (State of Hawaii) take another tack towards what is, or appears to be dangerous? How about "Enter at own risk" -"No one but yourself responsible past this point". Or somesuch wording. To alleviate liability?

    During the mid-nineties, the Hanauma Bay 'Toilet Bowl' was closed to everyone along with other areas around the islands. There's gotta be a better way.

    Just some thoughts.
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    Exclamation Re: Koko Crater Trail closed today

    I found this online. I wonder what came of it? (From August, 2005)
    http://kumu.icsd.hawaii.gov/dlnr/cha...lNR/05-N82.htm

    Here's a small portion of the text. Please read at the link above.

    "This is an opportunity for the public to be a part of the process to establish the design and placement standards for signs that warn of dangerous natural conditions in our state parks, along Na Ala Hele trails and in our county parks," said Peter Young, DLNR Chairperson.

    "There has always been, and always will be, a risk involved in being out in nature. Once these standards are finalized and signs put in place, we hope we will achieve a balance between the government's duty to warn and the recreational user making an informed choice. We invite the public to attend the hearing and comment on the new administrative rules we are proposing," concluded Young.

    "Act 82, Session Laws Hawaii, 2003, (relating to public land liability) establishes a process for the development of warning signs for improved public lands, and provides the State and counties with protection from liability for damages caused by the dangerous natural conditions that are identified through the warning signage..."

    Well... I know a bullet to the head isn't a 'natural' hazard, but something worded on signage may accomplish the same protection from liability. And how about 'other' natural areas? IE: Sacred Falls, Toilet Bowl, etc...
    Last edited by Menehune Man; February 16th, 2008 at 11:34 PM.
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    Default Re: Koko Crater Trail closed today

    Thanks for that Menehune Man.

    There will be a rally regarding this issue at Hahaione School at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, March 6, 2008, prior to the start of the 7 p.m. Hawaii Kai Neighborhood Board meeting. We hope that we get a good turnout regarding this issue. Ka Iwi cabins was a lightning rod for East Oahu, and I think this should be, too.

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    Exclamation Re: Koko Crater Trail closed today

    Koko Crater trail to remain open. (For now, bet we'll hear again about this issue)
    Over 300 people made it to the neighborhood meeting last night.

    http://www.honoluluadvertiser.com/ap...00/1001/NEWS01
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    Default Re: Koko Crater Trail closed today

    According to the S-B,

    Chang [that would be Lester Chang, the City Parks Director -GM] said the issue of public safety remains a concern that didn't exist before the closure in the 1990s of a Job Corps facility that acted as a physical buffer between the trail and the gun range. (link)
    Oooookay. So back when Job Corps was still operational, it served as a buffer? How did that work -- did the Job Corps guys protect the hikers by placing themselves in the line of fire?

    If Chang meant that the presence of an active Job Corps facility kept hikers from approaching the firing range too closely because they'd have to cross through an active facility and the Job Corps folks there would ask them not to do so, that almost makes sense... except, where exactly is this area where the hikers would be approaching too closely, anyway? I have been on that trail and I can't picture it. This argument doesn't hold water.

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    Default Re: Koko Crater Trail closed today

    the newly installed baseball field is closer to the range than the hiking trail. go figure?!
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    Post Re: Koko Crater Trail closed today

    Quote Originally Posted by kani-lehua View Post
    the newly installed baseball field is closer to the range than the hiking trail. go figure?!
    Exactly! Along with the nearby parking area also.

    Granted, if hikers leave the trail and go east along the mountainside, they would be in front and above the firing ranges facing that direction. I don't see any good reason to do that though. Nothing special to see and there's loose footing too.
    I've also never heard of anyone doing that.
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    Default Re: Koko Crater Trail closed today

    Quote Originally Posted by Menehune Man View Post
    Granted, if hikers leave the trail and go east along the mountainside, they would be in front and above the firing ranges facing that direction. I don't see any good reason to do that though. Nothing special to see and there's loose footing too.
    I've also never heard of anyone doing that.
    What's more, the brush along the sides is so thick that I can't imagine anyone doing that by accident either. Even the most confused hiker wouldn't make a mistake like that because the trail is extremely well defined. After all, it's an old railroad track -- you really can't get much more obvious than that.

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