Monday, December 8, 2008

DLNR Updates: Kaena Point State Park

Photo by P.K. Frary
Aloha Senators and Representatives,

I wanted to provide you with this update on Kaena Point, since you've received a few emails on the topic after our community meeting a couple weeks ago.

1. Fishing
Fishing all day and all night has been and remains open to anyone at Kaena Point State Park.

2. Camping
Camping is not currently permitted at Kaena Point State Park - in fact camping has been prohibited in that area since 2002.

We are working to open the area for wilderness camping provided we can reach agreement with the community on limitations that will ensure the area does not become overwhelmed with homeless, we can protect the safety of families camping overnight, protect the iwi, cultural sites, native plants, endangered monk seals and birds living in the dune system. We also need to develop rustic restroom facilities.

We have successfully worked out a pilot project for wilderness camping on the Waianae side of the coast with the help of the Waianae Neighborhood Board. We're optimistic we can do the same on the Mokuleia side.

3. Vehicular Access
Historically there's been a lot of off-road activity at Kaena Point. Part of the reason the tip of the point was declared a Natural Area Reserve (NARS) many years ago was to reduce the off-road activity that was destroying the native plants, seabird and monk seal habitat.

We invite you to come out to the Point and witness the success of the NARS. Thanks to limiting vehicular access at the point, the area has become a major seabird nesting site, we've successfully restored native vegetation, and on virtually a daily basis you can witness some of the few remaining monk seals basking in the sun in one of our rare protected sites on Oahu. The NARS is open 24/7 to foot traffic and is routinely visited by hikers, runners, fishers and many school groups who use the area for their environmental education and public service programs.

Unfortunately, vehicles still go off-road with abandon in the State Park area - which is risking uncovering numerous iwi kupuna buried in the dune system; creates tremendous erosion that impacts the reefs and fishery in the area; is a danger to nesting birds, native plants, hikers, and in some cases the ATV-ers themselves who get injured and need assistance evacuating the area.

We hope to work with the community to create safe vehicular access at Kaena Point for fishing and beach areas while protecting the iwi, dune system and native species. We are also working with a nonprofit organization to create an ATV park at Sand Island to provide an authorized area to redirect that activity away from this more sensitive site.

4. Next Steps
DLNR is working with local partners including Camp Erdman, the newly-formed Friends of Kaena Point, the North Shore Neighborhood Board and others to form a working group that will map out the acceptable management solutions to allow wilderness camping and to implement the next steps to make this a reality. As you can predict, solutions will require resourcefulness and compromise on all sides. But we believe that the department can, with partners like Camp Erdman and Friends of Kaena Point, provide enhanced and safe recreational opportunities for residents in this beautiful area.

Please don't hesitate to contact me if you have any questions.

Laura H. Thielen
Department of Land and Natural Resources
(808) 587-0401

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