Hawaii Volcanoes National Park buys ‘Great Crack’ property

HILO, Hawaii (AP) — The National Park Service has acquired a nearly 2,000-acre (800-hectare) Big Island property containing a chasm known as “The Great Crack.”

The oceanfront property adjacent to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park was purchased for $1.95 million in a recent foreclosure sale, the Hawaii Tribune-Herald reported Sunday.

The park has been interested in the property northeast of Pahala for more than five decades, said Ben Hayes, the park’s director of interpretation.

The site contains a 6-mile (10-kilometer) ravine in a lava field that is 60-feet (18 meters) wide and 60-feet (18 meters) deep in places. The site has become a popular hiking spot despite that it was previously on private property.

“With a name like ‘The Great Crack,’ it has to be pretty great,” Hayes said.

Besides hosting geological features that call for study and preservation, the property should also serve as buffer zone shielding the protected environment along the southwestern boundary of the park, Hayes said.

Environmental assessments will be conducted to determine how the park will manage the property and if it will be made publicly accessible.

“We can’t just jump on that right away, because right now, we are laser-focused on reopening the park,” Hayes said.

The park closed in May following the Kilauea volcano eruption. Park officials have been working to make the park ready for the scheduled reopening Saturday.

Hayes said there is no a timeline set for when the assessments on the new section might begin or how long they might take.

“We’re in the forever business,” Hayes said. “And this is something we’ve been trying to do for 50 years. And we’re going to continue to pursue our preservation options.”

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Information from: Hawaii Tribune-Herald, http://www.hawaiitribune-herald.com/

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