Haena State Park plan approved

  • Map courtesy state Department of Land and Natural Resources

    Shown here are planned improvements for Haena State Park, approved Friday by the state Board of Land and Natural Resources.

HAENA — The plan for Haena State Park was approved Friday by the state Board of Land and Natural Resources, establishing a future limit of 900 visitors at the end of the road per day.

The plan is one that has taken years to formulate and is the result of several community meetings and conversations with locals.

The board decision was not final approval of the plan, whose environmental impact statement must still be accepted by Gov. David Ige. Once that happens, DLNR director Suzanne Case can formally sign off on the plan.

The vision is a 100-stall main parking lot with striped stalls and permeable paving, shifted slightly to avoid a rockfall hazard zone. Also included are a new entry turnaround and a shuttle stop, with a new pedestrian-only path that follows along the berm of the lo‘i system near the highway.

“The new path will provide visitors with a unique view of Makana, a famous mountain peak, as well as views of the restored wetlands, loko and lo‘i as they continue to the iconic Ke‘e Beach,” the plan’s final draft says.

The unanimous 7-0 vote was an almost anti-climactic conclusion after a hearing that lasted more than an hour. Board members repeatedly pressed DLNR staff members and witnesses over how the 900-visitor maximum had been calculated. Staff and community members involved in the planning process agreed that implementation of the plan remains undetermined.

“It will take time,” said Alan Carpenter, the DLNR staff member who led the process. “This is a multi-year process.”

He emphasized that implementation will not begin immediately, even once the plan is finally approved.

But there was agreement that the storm had created an opportunity that must not be passed up because, with Kuhio Highway and the park closed indefinitely, work can proceed much faster than would be the case if the money had to be secured incrementally.

“The importance of this disaster funding is critical,” Carpenter said. “There’s a great opportunity here to make some changes on the North Shore.”

Key to being able to implement the plan quickly will be tapping into the $100 million emergency appropriation passed by the Legislature for storm relief. Estimates are that the Haena State Park project may require $3 million to $5 million. Of the total, $25 million has already been allocated to Kauai County, but spokesperson Sarah Blane said those funds are for projects under county jurisdiction.

DLNR will have to compete with other state agencies for the remaining funds.

To facilitate getting the work under way, DLNR plans to ask for funds for “repairs” at the park, without mentioning the master plan.

“The places we love have been loved to death,” said Chipper Wichman, executive director of the National Tropical Botanical Garden and longtime North Shore resident. “This plan is sorely needed. This flood has been Mother Earth’s way of crying out to us.”

DLNR, Carpenter said, is not responsible for establishing shuttle service to the park. But the county has not been successful in two previous attempts. Blane said Mayor Bernard Carvalho remains “totally committed” to finding a way to get the shuttle operating.

The plan calls for a parking lot that will be separated into a fee-paying lot and a non-fee paying lot with specific places for ADA accessibility, lifeguards, park staff, and parking for the hula complex and cultural practices.

The hula complex will encompass Ka Ulu a Paoa Heiau and the former Allerton Property, and a cultural gathering place will be created inland of Kailio Point with a traditional hale and halau wa‘a.

In addition, the plan supports the Agricultural Complex and encourages the restoration of cultural, historic and natural resources.

The visitor limit of 900 per day for the park includes day hikers, but does not include overnight campers or hunters with valid permits, members of the hui, cemetery caretakers, or kupuna who have cultural or ancestral ties to the area.

Preserving the historic and cultural significance of the place and balancing visitors with the needs of Haena’s environment and local residents is the goal of the plan — a goal residents say is worthy.

“With Hanalei being the end of the road now, we’re seeing it every day, all this increased traffic,” said Koral McCarthy, who has been working with flood relief volunteers in Hanalei and Haena since April’s historic flooding on the North Shore.

Kati Conant, who lives on Powerhouse Road in Wainiha, pointed out the change in the community past the Kuhio Highway blockade on the other side of Hanalei, where visitors are turned away and locals only are allowed through.

“With this calm and rest period that we have out there right now, the community is connecting,” Conant said. “This (rebuilding after the April flooding) is an opportunity for us to hit reset on the island.”

Haena Park could be part of that reset, and the idea of incorporating a shuttle is attractive to many residents on the North Shore, and many suggest the shuttle start in Kilauea with stops in Princeville, Hanalei and Haena.

“It would help it to be a more quality and safe experience,” said North Shore resident Mehana Vaughn, who also has been helping with flood relief efforts.” How do we bring in visitors in a way that keeps a good quality of life for everyone?”

The plan is set to roll out in three phases, the first over the next five years, the second phase targeted for the next 5 to 10 years, and a long-range phase in 10 to 25 years.

Work planned in the immediate-five-year range includes the construction of the welcome hale and pedestrian path, establishment of the Cultural Advisory Group and dune system improvements.

In the mid-range phase are improvements to drainage, installation of interpretive displays, and maintenance.

The long-range phase targets the wetland system at Ke‘e and allows for clearing of remaining invasive species and the continued expansion of cultural programs.


Jessica Else, environmental reporter, can be reached at 245-0452 or jelse@thegardenisland.com.

Allan Parachini is a former journalist and PR executive. He is a Kilauea resident.

  1. Craig Callaway May 26, 2018 5:10 am Reply

    This certainly sounds good — very good indeed. I just wish it wouldn’t take so long to implement.

  2. Valerie May 26, 2018 12:21 pm Reply

    900 spaces for parking. How many for island residents? If it’s a first come basis, those of us with a longer drive up will not be able to find parking and have to turn around. This disadvantages Island residents and serves as one more way to lock us out of our favorite places. Off island visitors need to come in by tram only.

  3. Lee May 26, 2018 4:30 pm Reply

    All good news. Now can my neighborhood get the same treatment? When you shut down the North, they all visit the other areas. I can’t pull out of my own driveway with so much traffic. North Shore is getting $5,000,000 for Hanalei plus tons more for the repairs needed. South Shore gets your traffic. Waimea Town is getting traffic! I’m really happy for North Shore, but Poipu can’t even get a bus bench.

  4. Annette Oda May 27, 2018 8:04 am Reply

    Please include me in this group.
    Sounds interesting.
    I’m still apprehensive. Tell me more.
    We Need to hear from more from other multicultural families.
    Tues. , 5/29, ” Meet n Greet” KRP Opportunity to Interact with Local candidates with similar basic KAUAI goals . 6:30 pm Immaculate Conception School Lihue in Isenberg Tract. Mel Rapozo, Wally Nishimura, Vicki Franks, Roy Saito, Ron (Running for U.S. Senate). Please Spread the Word. Thank you. I’d like more information on the people involved in Changing this ” KAUAI Group change to Neighbors”.

  5. Annette Oda May 27, 2018 8:31 am Reply

    Good point ! Interesting to discover Answer on Our KAUAI island.
    900 limit / day sounds overwhelming n over Abuse of the “Aina”.
    More details , n. Perhaps an Environmental Impact Study on Various Areas including Aina , Resources , Financial , Residential area, etc. Thank you.

  6. Annette Oda May 27, 2018 8:34 am Reply

    Where are our answers coming
    from ?

  7. boxers or briefs May 27, 2018 10:59 am Reply

    Ten to 25 year plan, nice to think ahead but talk about job security. So my grandkids might get to park out to Ke’e in the year 2040 if they apply for a permit now.

  8. Doxiesmom July 6, 2018 5:27 am Reply

    The master plan is on the state park website and you can read the document and see detailed maps. When they say 900 visitors it is calculated at a rate of approximate passengers per car, not actual cars that will be accommodated. The plan also includes paid overflow parking, interpretive trails, and a concession stand. While it sounds good to have visitors capped, Ke’e beach will be landscaped and developed and I’m afraid it will lose its rugged and off the beaten path appeal. Perhaps it might even be more attractive to tourists, given its new proposed amenities.

  9. Joshua Murphy September 14, 2018 7:55 pm Reply

    anyone know where the cut off will be…I’m thinking where the road was blocked just south of lumahai…the blockade appeared to be a summer bummer at first when we visited….been coming since 1979/80….but it does make one explore other areas you normally would’t be inclined to…discovered secrets beach finally after coming here for 37 years…KAUAI RULES…google “dalai lama and anahola” and see for yourself

    josh in

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