(BIVN) – Areas within Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park are being closed until further notice in order to prevent wildfires.
The National Park Service on Wednesday announced the closure of parts of Mauna Loa Road and Hilina Pali Road to motorized vehicles effective Wednesday, July 28. From a HVNP news release:
Despite ample rainfall in other parts of East Hawaiʻi, Hilina Pali Road has only received about half an inch of rain since June 1. Dry grasses and shrubs along the road exacerbate fire danger. Hilina Pali Road will be closed to motorists from the Kulanaokuaiki Campground to the Hilina Pali Lookout. Similar conditions were observed on Mauna Loa Road, which will also be closed to vehicles from the gate at Kīpukapuaulu to the Mauna Loa Lookout at 6,662 feet.
In addition, open fires will be prohibited at Nāmakanipaio campground, Kīpukapuaulu picnic area, and Kilauea Military Camp until further notice. Propane or gas cooking stoves are permitted.
“Staying safe while protecting the natural and cultural resources of the park is our top priority,” said Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park Fire Management Officer Greg Funderburk. “Fire danger indexes in both areas are above the 90th percentile and any ignitions that occur would be difficult to suppress and likely to result in a large fire,” he said.
Pedestrians and bicyclists may continue to use both roads, and backcountry permit holders will be provided access to trailheads.
The National Park Service says on average, human-caused wildfires make up 98% of all wildfire occurrences in Hawaiʻi annually. The fires pose considerable threats to public safety, because many occur in proximity to roadways, communities and recreational areas.