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Wooden swing removed at Sacred Falls State Park to discourage trespassing

State law enforcement officers have removed a wooden swing at the foot of the falls at Sacred Falls State Park, which has been closed to the public for more than 20 years.

The state Department of Land and Natural Resources said a trio of officers from the Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement on Wednesday removed the swing that had been strung from a tree at the base of the park’s 80-foot waterfall.

The DLNR said the swing appeared sometime earlier this year, and its removal was in part meant to address regular trespassing at the park fueled by posts online and on social media.

“Despite our earnest efforts to ask people to delete images of the swing on their social media pages, some influencers continue to encourage others to do stupid things that could get them killed or seriously hurt by following their posts,” DOCARE Chief Jason Redulla said in a statement.

The park, once a popular hiking trail on Oahu, was closed following a 1999 rock slide that killed eight people and injured about 50. Over the years, however, the DLNR has continued citing hikers who decided to hike the trail anyway.

During the swing removal, a woman was cited by an officer for being in a closed area, the DLNR said. When she was contacted, she was leading 10 people on a hike to the waterfall.

There are locked gates and multiple signs in the area with QR codes for videos informing potential violators of the risks hiking could place on themselves and first responders during a potential emergency.

“We understand wanting to post cool and exciting adventures on Instagram or Facebook, but people need to ask themselves, is it worth the risk? Apart from being cited or arrested, falling rocks, even small ones, can seriously hurt or kill someone, as history has shown,” said DOCARE Officer Edward Thompson in a statement. “Sacred Falls, or Kaliuwa‘a, is significant to Hawaiians and it is disrespectful for people to ignore multiple warning signs and years and years of reminders that the area is closed.”

DOCARE is using social media postings to identify people who enter the park illegally, and from there officers can potentially issue citations.

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