State’s consistent enforcement cleans up Kalalau

  • Contributed by state Department of Land and Natural Resources

    State Department of Land and Natural Resources Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement and Department of State Parks officers and staff clean up trash left in the Kalalau Valley.

NAPALI — Fewer people are squatting in Kauai’s Na Pali Coast State Wilderness Park than there were a few months ago.

“Clearly, our focus on enforcing permit rules for the Kalalau area is having the desired result,” said Robert Farrell, enforcement chief with the Department of Land and Natural Resources division of conservation and resources.

DLNR said Tuesday the Kalalau section of the park is in its best shape in decades.

People have noticed

In correspondence received by DLNR last month, Leesha Kawamura of Kauai wrote: “I, along with six other friends went hiking into Kalalau. I have not been there since 2014. I was pleasantly surprised to see how clean the place was compared to the last time. When I first visited and hiked it, it was 2014, I thought it was beautiful but I was sad and disappointed at the abundance of people there and the amount of trash that was piled up.”

She said she was glad DLNR has done the tough work in enforcing permitting, “as it is evident that taking care of our aina is our responsibility.”

The latest enforcement sweep happened Nov. 14 and officers arrested three unpermitted campers as opposed to the dozens commonly found daily by enforcement officers two years ago.

Officers also dismantled a squatter camp on Nov. 14 that DLNR says is an example of the tenacity of some of those living in the valley.

“The camp was reestablished by the time maintenance workers got there the following day,” said DLNR spokesman Dan Dennison.

In late 2015, DOCARE officers members began conducting unannounced, regular enforcement operations where several staff members were transported to the area via helicopter in search of illegal campers.

Over the past 24 months, hundreds of people have been arrested in the Kalalau beach and valley areas.

Most of those illegal campers were given a citation and ordered to appear in court, according to DLNR, and a few were taken into custody and taken to jail.

Dedicated enforcement for the area isn’t in the DOCARE budget, and the unannounced operations were due to an increase of dedicated resources to cleaning up the Kalalau, Farrell said.

“It’s a proactive approach,” he said.

DOCARE teams up with DLNR’s division of state parks to clean up the trash left behind when squatters and campers leave.

Curt Cottrell, state parks administrator, says the area is cleab and his team is pulling about 75 percent less trash out of the area than in previous years.

One key factor in curbing the trash flow has been interrupting the squatters’ supply line.

“Squatters get their supplies through illegal boat and Jet Ski operators,” Farrell said. “Cutting off those supply lines, they run out of food.”

The team has been doing triage work for the past couple of years, trying to restore and preserve Kalalau’s wilderness character, Cottrell said, and now ideally something more permanent will step in.

“We have a good foothold and we need full-time positions in the park,” he said.

Protection of Kalalau’s history and its place in Native Hawaiian culture is also imperative and could be one of the functions of a permanent staffer in the park, Cottrell and Farrell said.

DLNR representative say they’ve already gotten good feedback from their cleanup work.

Daniel and Jennifer McCoy of Washington State visited Kalalau for five nights in May, shortly after DOCARE officers swept the area and arrested 11 non-permitted squatters.

They wrote, “This completed our fifth experience … Upon our arrival into Kalalau we immediately noticed many positive changes. Missing were many of the long-time ‘residents’ that often added an unwelcoming atmosphere to the place, making us feel like we were encroaching on their territory. Gone were the unsightly piles of rubbish generated mostly by those same people.”

DLNR chair Suzanne Case said it’s heartening to receive letters and emails from people who’ve had positive experiences in the Na Pali Coast State Wilderness Park.

“It helps reinforce that the hard work being done by our parks folks and enforcement officers is paying off and we’re very much closer, than ever before, to restoring the park to its pristine wilderness character,” he said.

7 Comments
  1. randy kansas November 22, 2017 1:56 am Reply

    thanks goodness for this clean up effort;

    cutting off the supply line is a great idea and keep up the good work !


  2. Ryan North November 22, 2017 3:20 am Reply

    Kalalau Valley should belong to the people of Kauai and the Hawaiian islands as a place for Hawaiians to live they way they used to to practice there own beliefs and not a tourist destination. Although I applaud the state from cleaning up the place from unwanted rovers it’s is still another injustice that Real Hawaiians and there Ohana cannot live there for free.


    1. Brad November 22, 2017 6:28 pm Reply

      The problem is they’re not native Hawaiians that are squatting. It’s a bunch of “hippies”. I’ve been there twice and out of all the squatters and base camps I didn’t see any native Hawaiians living out there. The only Hawaiian I saw was the jetski guy that charges people to ride them in and out of the valley for a couple hundred bucks. I saw him dropping off supplies once as well.


  3. Halohalo November 22, 2017 9:06 am Reply

    Must be where all the new faces of homeless people are coming from.


  4. John Erwin November 23, 2017 8:33 am Reply

    Special thanks to all involved in both the clean up (could not have been fun) – Kalaulau valley and camping area and the surrounding mountains is, to me, one of the most beautiful natural spots in all of Hawaii. And to think that this special place was home to some of our earliest settlers whom we refer to as native Hawaiians, this is just a very special place and deserves our attention to make sure it is properly maintained and supervised. Thanks to all for your hard work – John Erwin, Princeville.


  5. DavidKoloa November 23, 2017 10:53 am Reply

    The valley should be free to locals and charge the tourist more. Its about $15 bucks a night per person. That’s an expensive camping trip for a local family, used to be almost free? Just saying.
    Also those locals bringing in supplies and people also have saved many lives. We do need capable people out there to save the tourists, and the occasional local.


  6. David Gardener November 24, 2017 7:46 pm Reply

    I agree that something needs to be done about allowing Kauai residents to camp in Kalalau. When you go on the website to look for available dates, there are none for many months out into the future. Years back there were 90 people allowed out there. That’s been cut by a third. No wonder they are issuing citations to unpermitted campers. Local people chance em but they shouldn’t have to.


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