Community asks to clean up Polihale

  • Michael Diamant / Special to The Garden Island

    The sunsets are spectacular from Polihale State Park, with Ni‘ihau and Lehua in the distance.

  • Contributed photo

    State Rep. Daynette “Dee” Morikawa

POLIHALE — Some community members on Kaua‘i are hoping they’ll be allowed to help clean up Polihale State Park, but the state Department of Land and Natural Resources is asking people to hold off on entering the park so that the place can rest.

Polihale State Park was among those closed recently due to illegal behavior and overuse, with DLNR pointing to evidence of that activity in Polihale on social media and reports by staff members. DLNR reported a recent weekend of 1,000 people camping in the state park, which has contributed to the park being closed.

As soon as word spread about the conditions of Polihale, residents started coordinating a clean-up in person and on social media. Lihu‘e resident Dickie Chang is among the concerned residents interested in participating in the cleanup, which will happen as soon as the state gives permission for residents to enter the park for that purpose.

Chang has been frequenting Poliahle for years, waking up at 5:30 a.m. on weekdays to make the drive to the park, which has become a place of retreat and healing.

“I am hoping we can get permission to organize (a cleaning), but there are many state and health concerns. I don’t think it’s going to be any time soon or ever,” said Chang. “There is no official organized cleanup yet. Many are standing by and ready to deploy.”

Chang called state Rep. Dee Morikawa for advice on next steps for the cleanup, and on ways to help reopen the state park as soon as possible.

Morikawa said she wrote a letter to DLNR about the issue on Wednesday, and is waiting for a response.

“I know that DLNR needs to figure out where they could use the help, and how to assure COVID-19 rules are taken into consideration,” said Morikawa.

Morikawa said she doubts that DLNR is ready for a community-led cleanup effort in the area.

“I do know that some organizations are ready to jump in when called, (but) this volunteer effort will need to be done with their supervision unless they open the park again,” said Morikawa. “If it was open, it would be easier to get a group out to pick up trash.”

DLNR staff said they’ve received feedback from multiple members of the Kaua‘i community, both in opposition and support of the action.

“Many in support also have offered to assist in management and proposed solutions, which we have long been considering and are taking into consideration,” said DLNR spokesperson Dan Dennison. He said the next step for Polihale State Park is a brief respite for the park, followed by engagement with stakeholders on short- and long-term management solutions. He did not say how long that “brief respite” would be.

“State parks would welcome a stewardship group — as we have at multiple parks statewide — to assist with park management issues, cultural-site protection and enhancement, and outreach and education,” said Dennison. “Offers of support are coming in, which we are appreciative of.”

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Stephanie Shinno, features and community reporter, can be reached at 245-0424 or sshinno@thegardenisland.com.

8 Comments
  1. nobody July 31, 2020 5:07 am Reply

    Just make tourists ride a shuttle there like Ke’e. Problem solved.


    1. loladog August 3, 2020 6:42 pm Reply

      Tourists? What tourists trashed Polihale recently? 1000 14 day quarantined tourists?


  2. jake July 31, 2020 6:00 am Reply

    Leave it to the locals to trash up a beach so bad and act like gorillas that the place becomes unusable.


  3. Kauaidoug July 31, 2020 9:15 am Reply

    Citizens want to come in and do DLNR’s work but they have to wait for the State to approve? Anyone want to take bets how long that will be? How can Polihale be that bad? If it is then someone hasn’t been doing their job. I am willing to bet again that most of the 1000 which seems like an incredibly large number, were school kids making up for denied graduation hooplahs. IF this is the case then some social media searching by parents to figure out where there kids were is in order. Parents should be very worried if their kids were involved because I don’t think many Covid19 protocols were being observed.


  4. Maggie July 31, 2020 5:07 pm Reply

    Hepatitis can live for months in feces so I guess its going to be a while before they allow anyone out there.


  5. barbara.maxwell-dubrinsky August 1, 2020 4:31 am Reply

    The residents of Hawaii do not realize how prescious and one of a kind their state is. Every Hawaiian needs to take responsibility for maintaining a high level of care with every aspect of this beautiful place.


  6. Charles Burrow August 1, 2020 8:40 am Reply

    I lived there for ten years and everyone would always complain about torists trashing the Island but trust being said, locals born and raised there are the ones disrespecting and trashing their own Island for I saw it happening all the time. Hold locals responsible to keep the beaches clean for future residence to enjoy, keep the Island green, for once you don’t, it will become a place polluted like Honolulu. Locals, don’t let that happen, keep the Island clean and dump your trash at the dump, not along roads just because people are to lazy to go to the dump and bury wild bore carcasses, don’t dump them along the road so every other local has to smell them rout. That is truly the problem in Kauai, not Torists. Think on that locals, take the blame on yourselves and take action and help clean up the beaches. That’s all I have say on that matter.


  7. loladog August 3, 2020 7:19 pm Reply

    Where is the civic pride and local responsibility? Parents? Lead by positive examples please.


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