An agreement approved by the state Board of Land and Natural Resources on Friday, May 11, in Honolulu may mean hikers will soon be allowed to use the old trail to the summit of Haleakala, which has been closed for over 70 years.
The memorandum of agreement between state Department of Land and Natural Resources Forestry and Wildlife Division, the Na Ala Hele Trail & Access System and Haleakala Ranch, through which a part of the trail runs, calls for a minimum of two hiking events each year on the trail, which was closed in 1935. These three stakeholders will share responsibility and oversight for scheduling and leading the hikes.
David Brown, a former member of the Na Ala Hele Advisory Council for Maui, opposed the proposed agreement. Brown is president and a founding member of the nonprofit PATH (Public Access Trails Hawai'i), which has filed a lawsuit in 2nd Circuit Court against the state and the ranch. PATH is asking that the court grant ownership of the trail to the state based on its historic use as a "public highway" and to open the trail to the public.
DLNR said that the cost of upgrade and maintenance and the conflict with the current invasive species eradication efforts would make open public use of the area prohibitive.