KAUAI (HawaiiNewsNow) - Kipu Falls on Kauai, loved by locals and now overrun by visitors, is being fenced-off to keep people out.
Five people have drowned there in the past five years and there have been many more injuries. The land owner, Grove Farm Company, is being sued by victim's families. So, in an attempt to prevent further tragedy and avoid more legal trouble, Grove is making a concerted effort to keep everyone out.
"It's a very difficult decision. It's one that we definitely didn't come to lightly. You know, it's a matter of public safety," said Grove Vice President Marissa Sandblom.
Grove said guide books are largely responsible because they feature Kipu Falls as part of hidden Hawaii. The books help guide people there who are unfamiliar with conditions and unprepared to handle adversity when it arises.
The internet is full of home video showing adventures at Kipu Falls. They show people swinging from ropes, letting go, and plunging to the pool below. Jumping from the rocky cliffs adjacent to the falls is another popular activity. It is great fun until someone gets hurt on the rocks or caught in the mysterious currents that swirl with rain water.
Grove said it has tried in vain to get guide books to exclude Kipu Falls or strongly inform readers that by going there they are trespassing. The company said it tried and failed to come up with a way to keep the falls open to locals only. It even offered to give the property to the county.
"But of course understanding their liability concerns about the safety exposure, they were unable to accept our offer," Sandblom added.
Physician Monty Downs, a member of the Kauai Water Safety Task Force, commends Grove for putting up the fence.
He said, "… Kipu Falls is no place for visitors, they don't have the background to recognize the dangers and risks and they have been getting killed or injured far too regularly."
"There are probably going to be a lot of folks that are disappointed about losing access to the site, but we hope they can understand our position," Sandblom said.
In addition to the fence, boulders will be put along the road to discourage people from parking there. Illegally parked cars will be towed and police have been asked to cite trespasser.