WAILUKU >> The National Park Service wants to manage safety and resource protection concerns as growing crowds of people compete for space to watch the sunrise at the Haleakala summit.
Private or rental vehicles have exceeded available parking 98 percent of the time this year, up from 83 percent in 2014 and 94 percent last year, the Maui News reported.
Some people are parking and walking where they shouldn’t, a Haleakala National Park official said. Visitor safety is also a concern as people venture out to find a better view.
“People want to get away from the crowds, so they go off trail into endangered species habitat, which is also where many sensitive cultural resources are,” said Polly Angelakis, the park’s chief of interpretation and education. “Or they move out on to cliff faces or crumbling volcanic rocks, which are very dangerous.”
The sunrise can draw as many as 850 people in one morning, with a daily average of 600.
“These resources can be damaged both by vehicles and off-road travel by visitors,” Angelakis said.
No plan has been drafted to manage the noncommercial crowds.
Two meetings have been held to solicit public comment on ways to manage crowds, visitor enjoyment as well as the protection of natural resources.
People can submit comments by June 6 via the online Planning, Environment and Public Comment System.
Park officials plan to use the comments as they develop a potential plan.