HANAPEPE — There aren’t as many vehicles lined up along the beach at Salt Pond as there have been in the past, thanks to community members and the county working together to protect their natural resources.
They rearranged parking — now vehicles have to drive to the other side of Port Allen Airport to get close to the beach or access through one of several winding back roads that lead to the water.
The result is the protection of the salt beds, the pa‘akai, that’s cultivated by families in the area.
The road that everyone was driving on to get to the beach went directly by the salt beds, which are natural wells that facilitate salt cultivation.
Vehicles that drove that road left behind oil and fluids, as well as other debris, and that got into the salt beds, said Malia Nobrega-Olivera, whose family is part of the traditional salt-making community.
She’s also part of a community organization defending the traditional practices and the site.
“We requested that people stop driving through there because it’s not good for the salt,” Nobrega-Olivera said.
Boulders were initially placed across the access to the beach in October, in a project that partnered the county’s public works department with the Westside.
But those didn’t last long.
“Some people removed them pretty quickly, kind of moved them to the side,” Nobrega-Olivera said. “So, we put in bigger ones.”
Those larger boulders were installed Nov. 6, according to public works. The department also said the boulders came from the beach-end of Lele Road to a location they say is “more suitable.”
“(That) protects the Lo‘i Pa‘akai of Ukula at Hanapepe called Salt Pond, and enabled a pedestrian-only access on Ka‘alani Road adjacent to the ponds,” public works said in a statement to The Garden Island.
The department continued: “The addition of boulders have limited the number of vehicles on the beach. In the past, vehicles on the beach contributed to sand erosion, allowing the ocean to push salt water and sand into the salt beds. Since the boulders were put in place, there has been a noticeable accretion of sand, allowing the restoration of the beach.”
Monday afternoon, Utah resident John Hawkins was lounging near the water at Salt Pond with his family. In two minivans, they trekked around Port Allen Airport, down Lele Road, to get to the little parking lot that offers close access to the sand.
The regular visitors to Kauai hadn’t heard much about why the access they knew was blocked off during this visit, but observed that the boulders kept the population of beachgoers down a bit from what they’d seen in the past.
“It’s harder than it should be to get down here,” Hawkins said. “But, on the other hand, when you make it more difficult, than you have less people down here and that’s nice.”