DLNR: MacKenzie park to reopen Saturday

  • HOLLYN JOHNSON/Tribune-Herald A sign at the gate to Mackenzie State Recreation Area on Thursday reads, "Area Closed! Do not go beyond this sign."

The MacKenzie State Recreation Area will reopen Saturday after a months-long closure following the lower Puna Kilauea eruption.

The park, as well as the Malama Ki Forest Reserve, will reopen after consultations between the Department of Land and Natural Resources’ Division of State Parks and Hawaii County Civil Defense, although certain travel restrictions will still be in effect.

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Within the forest reserve, restricted areas surrounding the recent lava flows will be enforced. These buffer zones encompass all terrain up to 50 meters away from the flow. Any unauthorized personnel venturing into the restricted zones will be subject to citation or arrest.

Visitors will be able to travel from MacKenzie to Pohoiki on foot, although hikers are advised to carry ample water, have sun protection and wear sturdy footwear.

“We expect a significant number of people will be wanting to explore the newly created beaches on the unencumbered lands north of MacKenzie State Recreation Area,” said Gordon Heit, Hawaii Island’s land agent with the DLNR Land Division. “People need to use extreme caution when approaching the water. In some locations, steep, unstable cliffs were formed by recent lava flows and they drop into very deep water where ocean currents are very unpredictable.”

MacKenzie’s reopening will follow another loosening of travel restrictions in lower Puna. This afternoon, Hawaii County Civil Defense will announce the opening of the mandatory evacuation area in Leilani Estates this weekend.

Other areas require additional assessment before reopening.

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Pohoiki boat ramp is cut off from the ocean by a newly formed black sand beach, which the DLNR will assess next week to determine whether the ramp can be used again or whether a new ramp must be built.

Lava Tree State Monument will remain closed pending significant repairs. The park sustained significant damage to sidewalks after repeated earthquakes and might have a damaged water system.

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