Access denied, again
Here we go again! Another natural wonder on the Big Island gets a “No Trespassing” sign. Huehue lava tube, just north of the Kona airport, is a wonderful place to stop and show visitors one of the things that makes the Big Island special. After a long flight, visitors are thrilled to get out, stretch their legs, and marvel at our lava wonderland just a couple of minutes from the airport.
As West Hawaii Today reported in Saturday’s paper, the state is saying the lava tube is unsafe and that the cars that are stopping there are damaging the shoulder of the highway. Instead of BS-ing us, the state could easily and cheaply put in a parking lot and turn it into a new tourist attraction. Their solution: 1,000 feet of ugly concrete barriers and no parking signs.
This is just one more example of the state ignoring the need for public access to the natural wonders of West Hawaii. Recent crackdowns on popular hiking routes are turning families out for a jaunt into criminals. Despite decades of attempts by residents and legislators, the Department of Land and Natural Resources refuses to engage with us on ways to get the kind of public access that is common on other islands.
At this time there are only five legal hikes in all of West Hawaii (Ala Kahakai, Makahi Road, Manuka Trail, Kaheawai Trail, and Pololu Valley.) For comparison, there are 41 in Oahu, 35 on Kauai, and 19 on Maui. (https://hawaiitrails.hawaii.gov/trails/#/).
The state is happy to take the taxes from tourism in West Hawaii and use them for new projects on Oahu. But as we see again with Huehue, they are unwilling to even help us maintain access to the places in West Hawaii that we have been going to for generations.
Not the solution
The West Hawaii Today headline on Saturday says it all — “popular lava tube entry.” Tourism is so important to the islands and let’s face it, this side of the Big Island does not have a lot of things for the visitors to look at, but with the large lava tube just 2 miles from the airport right off the highway, that could change.
Yes, parking is a problem, but the state Department of Transportation’s first thought is to put up barriers and “No Parking” signs. Did anyone think that it would be a great idea to put in a parking lot so that the visitors could enjoy the experience? Perhaps they can even turn it into a National Park to help pay for it. Last summer, we had visitors from the mainland when the eruption was going on, and they were disappointed because they couldn’t go visit Hawaii Volcanoes National Park because the volcano was erupting so I took them up to the lava tube by the Kona airport and at least they got to see that.
Keep Americans safe
An open letter to America’s legislators and President Donald Trump:
What if tomorrow’s headline read: “Cause of deadly plane crash discovered! TSA Officer, desperate to pay bills, accepted bribe to allow contraband to pass through checkpoint”?
Would both sides of this government shutdown dispute, spend their time blaming each other?
Pay the people who are charged with keeping Americans safe before something happens. You’ve opened a link in the chain designed to keep us safe. I won’t be flying while TSA isn’t getting paid.
Things to consider before enlistment
To all persons under 21 years of age:
Please reconsider if you intend to enlist in the military.
I admire you for putting the needs of America before your own. But consider that if you’re under 21, you are legally prohibited from purchasing tobacco products like cigarettes, e-cigarettes or chewing tobacco in your home state.
Obviously, the state knows what is best for you, and will dictate what you, as an adult can do to your own body. Never mind that alcohol negatively impacts a greater number of innocent parties sharing the road with users, but the state government knows best — ignore the drunken driver but charge tobacco users, those under 21, with a crime.
I, as an adult, believe that you should have the right to put tobacco into your own body. Why does the state regulate only those under 21 with such restrictions? Yet, they give the right to vote also to those under 21. This is just speaking out of both sides of their mouth; are you old enough to make choices or aren’t you?
Don’t get me wrong, I find smoking bad for me, but why should I dictate how someone else lives their life? Just like another person deciding that sugar is bad for me, and so it should be banned.
But none of this applied to me when I was a teenager, you see in 1966 it was alright to smoke and purchase alcohol, as long as you were 18. But along with this “freedom” came the real possibility that the government could force you to possibly die. I was drafted into the Army in 1966.
Michael L. Last