DLNR seeks new camping grounds

State Department of Land and Natural Resources officials are considering adding more recreational cabins and more tent-camping at Koke‘e State Park and allowing more tent-camping at Polihale State Park.

DLNR officials are also looking at the feasibility of creating camping opportunities at the Wailua Reservoir in East Kaua‘i through a possible agreement with the University of Hawai‘i.

The university manages most of the land around the reservoir, but DLNR officials hope to use the land through an agreement with the university.

The possibilities for more camping at those Kaua‘i locations are part of a much larger plan by DLNR officials to enhance and improve camping opportunities at state parks throughout Hawai’i, DLNR officials announced Friday.

“We are hoping to expand the opportunities up in Koke‘e,” Peter Young, chairman of the Board of Land and Natural Resources, told the Garden Island. “Because of the successes we have had (with recreational cabins in Koke‘e) we are looking to use it as a model around the state.”

Kikiaola Realty LLC. currently has a short-term lease to operate 12 recreational cabins, a restaurant, a gift shop, all located near the Koke‘e Lodge, according to Daniel Quinn, administrator with the DLNR’s Parks Division on O‘ahu.

Kikiaola leaders also have a short-term lease to operate a snack wagon at the Waimea Canyon Lookout.

“They (leaders with Kikiaola) have already expressed to us an interest in expanding the number of (recreational) cabins and the tent camping (near the rental cabins),” Young said.

A request for proposal to create camping opportunities around the Wailua Reservoir is something “we are looking at,” Young said, adding “we are looking at including camping trails.”

If and when the project is designed, funded and implemented, the Wailua Reservoir site would be the new home to a camping area, a public fishing area and an educational center, Young said.

The center could be run along the lines of Koke‘e Discovery Center, a repository of information about Kaua‘i’s natural resources.

DLNR officials first considered establishing East Kaua‘i’s first public-fishing area at the Wailua Reservoir, but changed their minds after visiting the site and saw expanded recreational use opportunities.

The tour was led by Wade Ishikawa, an information specialist with the DLNR’s Division of Aquatic Resources office on Kaua‘i.

DLNR officials also are considering increasing the number of tent sites at Polihale State Park, Young said.

Young said DLNR officials are only in the “interest and discussion” stage at this point, and that no set plans related to potential camping sites for any Kaua‘i state parks or at the Wailua Reservoir are being pursued.

Young said he and DLNR officials welcome public comments on the form the additional camping opportunities will take.

“We want to get the message out to the community (on camping options),” Young said.

The Kaua‘i plans will be taking a back seat to plans to enhancing camping elsewhere in the state.

As a start, DLNR officials are seeking proposals to develop and operate public recreational facilities and programs at O‘ahu’s Malaekahana State Recreational Area.

Plans include infrastructure improvements to both the Kalanai and Kahuku sections of the state park.

Concession options also are being considered for Hapuna Beach State Recreation Area and other parks on the Big Island, DLNR officials said.

“We know the people of Hawai‘i want more camping and recreational opportunities; through this program, we believe we will be able to better serve the public,” Young said.

Vendors or concessionaires currently operate at several state parks in Hawai‘i, operating restaurants and gift shops and providing food and beach services and camping and cabin rentals, Young said.

“This idea (of expanding and improving camping opportunities at state parks) is not new,” Young said. “We are simply expanding on a good idea.”

At the moment, camping is offered at 13 of the state’s 55 state parks, Young said.

For more information on the proposal to develop more camping opportunities at state parks, please contact Young at 1-808-587-0401 or Deborah Ward , DLNR information specialist, at 1-808-587-0320.

Lester Chang, staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 225) and mailto:lchang@pulitzer.net

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