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Limiting Haena?

LIHUE — Environmental regulators will solicit public input in Hanalei this week about a new management plan for Haena State Park that calls for controlled entry, a 900-person daily visitor cap and beach access by way of an elevated boardwalk.

The public meeting on the proposed master plan will take place from 6 to 8 p.m. on Wednesday at the Hanalei Elementary School cafeteria.

Haena State Park’s pristine shoreline, sheltered lagoon and scenic vistas make it one of the island’s most popular visitor destinations. With roughly 2,000 daily visitors, “the end of the road” is also one of the state’s busiest parks. Within its 66 acres, the park contains valuable cultural and ecological resources, as well as the Kalalau trailhead, gateway to the Napali Coast State Wilderness Park.

The vision mapped out in the 800-page master plan is geared at renewing the park’s emphasis on Haena’s cultural and historical significance while resolving issues pertaining to large crowds, lack of parking and too much traffic.

Central to the plan is a proposal to limit the number of people who enter the park. A 900-person visitor cap would reduce the number of daily visitors by about half. The cap would affect hikers on the Kalalau Trail, but not overnight campers with valid permits.

The plan also proposes fees for park entry and/or parking, with Hawaii residents being exempt.

Another recommendation has to do with public safety improvements. A recent rockfall hazard study identified a high-risk area along the highway, which is the main visitor corridor to Kee Beach.

Under the proposal, access to Kee would be provided by an elevated boardwalk located makai of the highway, so as to take people out of a rockfall hazard zone where the road currently lies. The new pathway would offer visitors views of Makana, the famous mountain peak, as they make their way to the beach.

The master plan, assembled by the Department of Land and Natural Resources, is based on years of research and community input guided by a community advisory committee, a team of consultants, contractor PBR Hawaii and DLNR’s Division of State Parks. It also includes a draft Environmental Impact Statement.

The draft EIS is currently available for viewing on the Office of Environmental Quality Control’s website with a public comment deadline of Sept. 8.

Comments should be sent to Lauren Tanaka, Division of State Parks, 1151 Punchbowl St., Room 310, Honolulu, HI 96813 or by email to: Lauren.A.Tanaka@hawaii.gov or to Kimi Yuen, PBR Hawaii, 1001 Bishop St., Suite 650, Honolulu, HI 96813 with email: kyuen@pbrhawaii.com. To receive a written response, include your full name and mailing address if sending comments by email.

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