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Increased access to Waipiʻo Valley begins today

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Permitted tour operators, Hawaiʻi Island residents and Native Hawaiians claiming traditional rights will once again be allowed access to Waipiʻo Valley.

The Hawai’i County Department of Parks and Recreation will have two staff members stationed at the Waipiʻo Valley lookout. They will check permits and identification.

Access to the valley closed in February due to road safety concerns. Hawaiʻi Island Mayor Mitch Roth amended the rule late last week, adding that all those wanting access will need a covered 4-wheel drive vehicle, which would prohibit all-terrain vehicles and horseback access.

“This is for safety reasons that we did this, the feeling is that pedestrians on that roadway are a danger,” Roth said. “And some of the reports that we have, there's bigger possibilities of danger to pedestrians.”

Closure of the county road was met with opposition. The group Malama I ke Kai o Waipiʻo filed suit against the county for access.

The Mayor’s Office will begin issuing permits to licensed tour operators Monday.

Officials said a public meeting to discuss the road, access and repairs will be scheduled in early October.

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