Public input sought on recovery plan for HVNP
This story has been updated to reflect the correct the date of which comments must be submitted. Comments are due by March 11, not March 9. It is the policy of West Hawaii Today to correct promptly any misleading or incorrect information when it is brought to the attention of the newspaper.
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and the U.S. Geological Survey are seeking community input about a proposed plan to move the Disaster Recovery Project forward following the 2018 volcanic eruption and summit collapse on Kilauea volcano.
The focus of the Disaster Recovery Project is to repair, replace, relocate or remove critical park infrastructure and USGS-operated facilities and equipment damaged during the 2018 eruption and summit collapse, according to an HVNP press release.
Under the proposed plan, the National Park Service would:
— Demolish three damaged structures at Uekahuna Bluff on the Kilauea summit (the former Jaggar Museum, the Okamura Building and the Geochemistry Annex).
— Repair and restore access to the existing overlook area at Uekahuna adjacent to the former Jaggar Museum.
— Replace the Jaggar Museum visitor center with a new building near the existing Kilauea Visitor Center by the park entrance. (Kilauea Visitor Center would still be used for administrative offices and K-12 educational programs, and the auditorium would still host public presentations).
— Realign Crater Rim Drive near the park entrance and install a roundabout to improve safety.
— Allow USGS to construct a replacement field station adjacent to the ball field by Kilauea Military Camp in the park.
“People care about the many special places in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and are keenly interested in what happens on this landscape,” HVNP Superintendent Rhonda Loh said in a statement. “In summer 2020, the park received a tremendous amount of feedback from the public on several preliminary alternatives we shared for relocating the damaged buildings at Uekahuna. We look forward to hearing from the public on these current proposed actions. “
The public is invited to review project details online, attend a virtual meeting and submit input before March 11 in the following ways:
— Online: The preferred method for receiving input comments is through the NPS Planning, Environment, and Public Comment website: https://parkplanning.nps.gov/HAVODisasterRecovery. Detailed project information, including a story map with video and more are available on the website.
— Phone: There is a dedicated phone line for receiving comments. People can leave a detailed message or request someone calls them back by calling (808) 460-6212.
— Attend a virtual meeting: The public is invited to attend one of two virtual public meetings on Thursday, Feb. 24. The same information will be presented at both meetings so it is necessary to only attend one meeting. The meeting are:
Feb. 24, 12 p.m. to 1 p.m. Join the online meeting: https://swca.zoom.us/j/91430664015. If you do not have access to internet, you can join by phone: (888) 475-4499 toll-free; Meeting ID: 914 3066 4015.
Feb. 24, 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. Join the online meeting: https://swca.zoom.us/j/97252271515. If you do not have access to internet, you can join by phone: (888) 475-4499 toll-free; Meeting ID: 972 5227 1515
The meetings will provide an opportunity for the public to learn more about the project, have discussions with NPS and USGS staff and provide input. Comments received on the proposed action will be reviewed, analyzed and considered for the environmental assessment. The meetings will be recorded and a link to the recording will be posted on the project website: https://parkplanning.nps.gov/HAVODisasterRecovery.
Beginning in May 2018, the park and Kilauea summit underwent a major change as magma drained from the chamber beneath Halema‘uma‘u Crater, and the caldera began to collapse, triggering thousands of felt earthquakes and clouds of rock and ash that continued until early August.
The seismic activity was primarily centered near the crater, and significantly impacted buildings in the immediate vicinity on Uekahuna Bluff, including Jaggar Museum and the USGS-operated Okamura facility and equipment, resulting in the closure of the area. The 2018 eruption and caldera collapse were the most destructive eruptive events in Hawaii in the last two centuries, and the park closed to the public for 134 days.
The results of post-disaster assessments found that significant investment would be necessary to make Jaggar Museum and the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory-operated Okamura building and Geochemistry Annex safe to occupy and operational. The buildings are surrounded by fault lines and the area continues to subside on the crater side, undermining slope stability at the existing terraces and building foundations.