DLNR NEWS RELEASE: Notice of research project along the Makapu’u trail

Posted on Mar 16, 2017 in Latest News

Small Area of the Park Will be closed during Research

HONOLULU – Beginning this month and continuing through early May, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Lincoln Laboratory (MIT LL) will be conducting an ocean research project near the summit of Makapu‘u within the Kaiwi State Scenic Shoreline. This park is managed by the Department of Land and Natural Resources, Division of State Parks. The research will be staged from the cliff area adjacent to the spur trail that leads to the Makapu‘u Lighthouse, but will not affect hiking on the Makapu‘u Trail or visitation of the upper lookouts. However, a small area of the park will be closed and off-limits during the two month research period.

MIT LL’s research project will use a lightweight, portable radar system to collect measurements of the naturally occurring, random reflections from the ocean surface in multiple frequency bands.  These natural, random ocean reflections (called clutter) can obscure the radar reflections from ships or boats and make them more difficult to detect.  MIT LL’s research will help radar designers separate real objects from ocean reflections and improve radar performance.  MIT LL anticipates that one benefit of this research will be improved ship-mounted radars, which will be able to better detect small objects in the water (small boats, kayaks, canoes, etc.) and avoid collisions.

The radar has been designed with power levels less than 1/10 of that of a microwave oven.  The radio waves used by the radar do not penetrate into the ocean.  Due to this design, the radar will pose no hazard to any boaters or marine life in the area of the ocean being illuminated.

The radar will be mounted on a platform overlooking the ocean. Several temporary support structures will be placed nearby to house equipment and researchers. Hikers may experience vehicles on the trail during the research period.

The research is being conducted under a permit from DLNR, Division of State Parks. “We want to support this important research but also need to ensure public safety when researchers use our parks. Therefore, park visitors are urged to respect the warning signs and stay out of the research area during the next couple of months,” said Curt Cottrell, State Parks Administrator. “We know how popular this trail is with both residents and visitors and therefore, we have tried to minimize the impacts on park users”.

The Makapu‘u Road was built in 1909 to provide access to the Makapu‘u Lighthouse and the lighthouse keeper’s residences at the summit. State Parks recently completed a major project that included repaving of the 0.8-mile long road, construction of new viewing platforms and rest stops along the trail, and improvements to the upper lookout.

More than 150,000 people hike the Makapu‘u Trail annually or participate in ocean recreation activities along the Kaiwi shoreline (2009 visitor count by State Parks). During these counts, it was found that about 75% of the hikers are residents, many who use the trail regularly for exercise.

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Media Contact:

Deborah Ward

Public Information Specialist

(808) 587-0320