Camping permits at Koke’e on hold

Restroom construction work will close some Koke’e State Park campgrounds through most of the summer, a state official said.

Most of the work at the Koke’e State Park campground at the northern end of Kanaloahuluhulu Meadow near the Koke’e Natural History Museum and Koke’e Lodge is for compliance with the federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), said Wayne Souza, state Department of Land and Natural Resources Division of State Parks Kaua’i superintendent.

Because of the “fluid” nature of the construction schedule that depends in part on fair weather, the campground, which closed for several days after last month’s torrential rains but has since reopened, will close again when the work starts, he explained.

For that reason, people requesting permits for periods some time away from the request date are not being accepted, he said.

The campground has comfort stations with restrooms and showers, and camping cannot be allowed without those facilities operational, he told The Garden Island.

The work is tentatively scheduled toward the end of summer, when usage at the 15-permit site is traditionally low, with visitors preferring the beaches to the mountains, Souza said.

If work were to be done in August or September, there would be conflicts with hunters and those who go to the mountain country for the annual trout-fishing season, he said.

The rest of the year, demand for camping at Koke’e is low, he added.

It costs $5 per night per permit to camp at Koke’e, and a permit can cover anywhere from one to 10 people, Souza explained.

A similar closure has impacted the Kawaikoi and Sugi Grove camp sites in the DLNR Division of Forestry and Wildlife camping areas of the Alaka’i Wilderness Preserve, also because of the need to make restroom and camping facilities ADA-compliant, Souza said.

Because that is not technically part of Koke’e State Park, he could not speak more in detail about those closures, only to say that demand for permits at those sites is even less than at Koke’e, because of the need to hike or take four-wheel vehicles to access the area.

A state DLNR spokesperson did not return a telephone call seeking more detail by presstime.

A Kaua’i resident who went to the State Building DLNR offices seeking camping permits for Kawaikoi and Sugi Grove said he was told no permits would be issued for the two camping areas for the entire summer, and he is disappointed.

The camper said he was told that the Kawaikoi and Sugi Grove camp sites, closed first by last month’s torrential rains and further because of the planned maintenance work, would not be open for public camping anytime this summer.

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