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Oahu nonprofit needs nearly $60K to finish repairs to Koko Crater Stairs

                                Another $59,000 needs to be raised to finish temporary repairs up to the summit of Koko Crater Stairs. Repairs are already underway.
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Another $59,000 needs to be raised to finish temporary repairs up to the summit of Koko Crater Stairs. Repairs are already underway.

The work to temporarily repair the steps at the popular Koko Crater Stairs is progressing steadily, according to the Kokonut Koalition, the nonprofit overseeing them, but needs to raise additional funds in order to finish up to the top.

So far, a team of volunteers has since early December fixed nearly 200 steps, and is working its way up toward “the bridge” — which is the halfway point of 1,048 total steps — of the former U.S. military tramway at Koko Head District Park. The progress is tracked in real time on an online map.

“It’s surprising how quickly it’s happening,” said coalition president David Nixon. “We’re moving along pretty quickly.”

A more immediate need for the Kokonut Koalition, however, is to raise an additional $59,000 in funds for the materials and tools needed to complete the repairs all the way to the summit, he said. In order to finish, the group has simultaneous fundraisers, including an ongoing GoFundMe campaign, and more recently, an Amazon Smile campaign.

Three years ago, the coalition made up of hard-core stairs hikers mobilized after fearing heavy rains and footfalls had deteriorated the steps to the extent of falling apart.

The stairs have over the years grown so much in popularity among residents and visitors alike that they been “loved to death,” resulting in erosion and deterioration. Many steps, made up of cross-ties, had splintered, hollowed out or were completely missing.

The Kokonut Koalition became an official 501(c)(3) nonprofit, and entered into a private-public partnership with the city’s Department of Parks and Recreation to repair, maintain and refurbish the stairs for future generations of hikers — an agreement that was signed and formally announced at the start of this year.

A Honolulu City Council resolution allotted the group $100,000 (out of $1 million budgeted for the overhaul of the stairs) in order to start immediate repairs, but the amount of materials procured eventually amounted to about $74,000.

The funds raised will primarily help pay for additional materials and tools, as well as the permitting and consultant fees for the engineering firm that converted another set of rail tracks into a hiking trail known as the Manitou Incline in Colorado.

The repairs are being done by a volunteer core crew made up of Koalition board members as well as volunteers.

On Saturdays, anywhere from 20 to 50 volunteers help out, starting as early as 7 a.m., helping to carry gravel bags and lumber up the stairs. Random hikers heading up are usually happy to grab a bucket of gravel on the way up, and then set them down at designated markers.

The repair to steps are a simple fix consisting of lumber and bolts, while gravel is poured in between and beside the steps to help prevent erosion. The new steps are meant to be a temporary fix, but should last for the next three to five years.

Hawaii Energy Connection has also set up reused KumuKit solar panels at the site in order to help recharge power tools, which has sped up the process.

Those interested in volunteering can contact volunteer@kokonutkoalition.org.

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