ROYAL GARDENS, Hawaii: A helicopter tour company is continuing with the environmental approval process in order to land in the Royal Gardens subdivision – or what’s left of it – when conducting lava tours. This, despite the fact that the proposed landing area has already been covered with lava since the process began.
When Paradise Helicopters submitted the draft environmental assessment, Jack Thompson’s home – the last remaining in the destroyed subdivision – was still standing.
But in March of this year, Madam Pele sent the final lava flow down the pali, burning the surrounding forest and ultimately, destroying Jack’s home.
Yet, the helicopter company hasn’t given up on the idea of bringing tours up to the devastated neighborhood.
The final environmental assessment shows how the document has evolved to reflect the events, noting in several places that the home has been lost to lava. In one section, the final EA states:
The Draft EA stated that “lava might destroy the home within a matter of months to years, after which landings at the site might have little or no reason to continue, and that until then, the landings would offer visitors a unique and unforgettable perspective on geologic hazard. Paradise Helicopters has reviewed the potential attraction of the tour subsequent to the March 2012 lava inundation and has determined that it would still have value.”
The document also says that the now-covered lava rock surface on the property is stable pahoehoe suitable and safe for a landing platform.