KABAYAN, Benguet, May 3 (PIA) -- The Akiki Trail of the Mount Pulag National Park has been opened to the public.
Mount Pulag National Park Protected Area Superintendent Victor Gorinto said that the temporary closure of the Akiki Trail has been lifted for adventurers and hikers.
Gorinto said that the reopening of the highest mountain peak in Luzon last April 24 is in coordination with the office of Kabayan Municipal Mayor Gideon Todiano.
The DENR ordered the temporary closure of the Akiki Trail up to the summit of Mount Pulag in January this year following the burning of at least six hectares of grasslands at the Saddle Camp in Eddet, Kabayan up to the ridge slopes at the north eastern area of the summit caused by a reckless handling of a cooking stove by tourists.
Due to the incident, the treks via Akiki Trail and Tawangan along the summit have been ordered closed to give time for grass vegetation including dwarf bamboo to recover.
Gorinto reminded the visitors to the “sacred playground of the gods” that the burned areas are still regenerating as he asked visitors to be extra careful and avoid stepping outside the designated trail to allow the growth of young grasses.
He added that all incoming visitors bound for the Mount Pulag National Park must log-on at any of the Ranger Stations such as the Protected Area Office – Ambangeg and Babadak Ranger Station in Bokod; the Akiki Ranger Station and Tabeyo Ranger Station in Kabayan, Benguet and the Tinoc Ranger Station in Tinoc, Ifugao.
Meanwhile, the Bureau of Fire Protection – Cordillera has also recommended to the DENR to impose additional requirements for hikers as well as regular training for guides in Mount Pulag.
To ensure safety and that fire incident would not happen again, the BFP-CAR has recommended that hikers be required to bring portable fire extinguishers and manual backpack sprayers if they intend to camp out at the summit. Cooking areas shall be designated at the camp sites and ranger stations to avoid another occurrence of a fire incident at any portion of Pulag.
Porters and guides should also have regular training on fire fighting for them to serve as fire brigade volunteers considering the distance and terrain of the mountain. Fire swatter or fire breaker shall be made available at the different cooking areas to help stop fire incidents immediately. Redjie Melvic Cawis (ALT/RMC- PIA CAR)