DLNR seeks public input on recreational plan

The state Department of Land and Natural Resources wants public input on how to improve state parks and facilities statewide for use by residents and visitor in the future.

The Kaua’i meeting is scheduled to be held in a conference room on the second floor of the state building at 6:30 p.m. on Oct. 10.

The DLNR will hold statewide meetings throughout this month to address a wide range of recreational facilities and activities, ranging from ballfields, courts, swimming pools and golf courses to hiking, biking, hunting, fishing, boating, surfing, and other ocean sports.

Through the meetings, DLNR officials also said they hope to find better ways to deal with resource protection and sustainability, funding and staffing for parks, conflict between users of recreational areas, and access constraints to recreational areas.

Mountain bike riders are expected to show up at the Kaua’i meeting to ask DLNR to set aside more state land for their sport, said Robert Rekward, a Kalaheo resident and an avid mountain bike rider.

The creation of more trails will attract riders from throughout the world, potentially opening the way for the development of a new industry that will help strengthen the island’s economy, Rekward said.

He said he plans to submit a petition to the Land Board to officially establish an official “downhill” bicycle trail within the Waimea State Park.

The trail drops down three miles and connects with three more miles of trails that are under the jurisdiction of Kaua’i County, Rekward said.

“It is to mountain bike riders what Hanalei Bay is to surfers,” Rekward said. “It is the bomb.”

In California and other states, mountain bike riders have worked out agreements with the U.S.D.A. Forest Service to use federal lands for mountain biking, he said.

“I feel the same can be done on state lands in Hawai’i,” Rekward said. ‘I think it would be possible to put bicycle trails on former agricultural lands.”

Mountain biking is done on former haul cane roads, although doing so amounts to trespassing and is illegal, Rekward said.

Mountain bike riding also takes place in the Koke’e and Waimea Canyon State Parks and on certain trails of the Na Ala Hele program, which is administered by the DLNR’s Division of Forestry and Wildlife.

Through legislation that was set up the program in 1988, the DLNR plans, develops, acquires land or rights for public use of land for a trail and access system.

Kaua’i has only 10 miles of trails ideally suited for the riding of mountain bikes, Rekward said. They are located along the Nonou Mountain trail and Moalepe Trail in Kawaihau District and along the Kalepa Mountain Range in Hanama’ulu, Rekward said.

Rekward said he will try to rally mountain bicycle riders to attend the Oct. 10 meting.

Along with PBR Hawaii, the state agency is holding the meetings to update the Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan (SCORP).

The state updates the plan every five years to qualify for federal Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) grant funds to expand outdoor recreation opportunities statewide.

The federal funds can be used for park acquisition and park construction by state and county park and recreation agencies.

The meeting locations are disability accessible. If special needs are required, contact DLNR at 1-808-974-6203 on the Big Island or 1-808-587-0439 on O’ahu.

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