There are now special-duty officers blocking access to Haiku Stairs

KANEOHE, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A popular off-limits trail in windward Oahu just got a whole lot more difficult to access.

The Board of Water Supply said it recently hired special duty police officers to assist in preventing hikers from trespassing over private property while illegally accessing Haiku Stairs, better known as the Stairway to Heaven.

Officials wouldn't disclose details about where and when the officers are present, but BWS said the Honolulu Police Department has had at least one officer in neighborhoods surrounding the access trails since mid-August.

So far, 900 people on foot or in vehicles have been deterred and 12 citations have been given out for various vehicle violations.

One of three access points to the illegal hike is right next to Ken Rose's home in Haiku Village.

"It begins as early as two o'clock in the morning with cars doing the turn around," Rose said. "Slamming doors, car alarms going off when they secure their cars, to shouting and music."

Rose and other nearby residents say it's a nuisance dealing with trespassers.

He wants the 4,000-step staircase torn down, but the fate of the structure - which closed in 1987 - is still being determined while the Board of Water Supply prepares an environmental impact statement.

It won't be complete until next spring.

Meantime, BWS said the increase in security should help deter illegal hikers, who could face fines up to $1,000, community service and even jail time.

"We will prosecute," said Kathleen Pahinui, spokesperson for the Board of Water Supply. "So if you receive a citation, we will go to court and we will be there."

"I think it's way out of proportion for what's going on, but I guess it seems to be working," said Vernon Ansdell of Friends of Haiku Stairs.

Ansdell and the organization wants the trail reopened under managed access.

He says it's not right to penalize hikers who just want to enjoy the breathtaking views.

"The stairs are a priceless asset and they need to be opened legally for people to enjoy," Ansdell said.

BWS recommends checking out for state maintained trails open to the public.

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