As lava continues to flow into the Northeast Rift zone from Mauna Loa’s summit caldera, the DLNR Division of Forestry and Wildlife (DOFAW) is closing additional recreation areas on the mountain.
Unit J of the Kapāpala Game Management Area is closed until further notice. DOFAW Hawai‘i Island Branch Manager Steve Bergfeld said, “No one should be accessing Mauna Loa at this time. Our sole focus is on public safety, which depends on where lava ultimately flows.”
On Monday, DOFAW announced the closure of the entire Mauna Loa Forest Reserve, a massive 50,000-acre area. In addition, Bergfeld decided to close the Kīpuka ʻĀinahou Nēnē Sanctuary, ʻĀinapō Trail and cabin, and the Kapāpala Forest Reserve. All areas will be closed for 90-days.
Earlier, the National Park Service closed access to the Mauna Loa summit from the south, due to the initial period of volcanic unrest. Jack Corrao, Chief Ranger at Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park, stated, “As part of our eruption response plan, Hawai‘i Volcanoes has implemented further closures to the main, easy, access points that lead up to the Mauna Loa Summit. These include the Mauna Loa Observatory Access Road through Hawai‘i County and Mauna Loa Road, known locally as “Strip Road.” These have been closed physically through barriers. Individuals attempting to access through these are subject to fines and arrest.”
Yesterday morning, officers from the DLNR Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement (DOCARE) and the Hawai‘i Police Dept. established a roadblock at the intersection of Mauna Loa Observatory Access Road and Daniel K. Inouye Highway (Saddle Road). It is being manned 24-hours-a-day.