Polihale reopens after five-month closure
POLIHALE — Last Friday, admission into Polihale State Park reopened after nearly five months of closure.
When the park was shut down in July, the state’s Department of Land and Natural Resources Division of State Parks blamed overuse and abuse of the beach and camping area citing a weekend where over 1,000 people camped illegally.
“There were many discussions about future management of the park,” Rep. Dee Morikawa, House Majority Floor Leader, said Monday. “The community seems to want some kind of management plan similar to Ha‘ena, but geared to westside usage.”
Morikawa will be proposing a vehicle access fee to control the number of cars allowed in to the area at the next legislative session beginning in January.
“I want to address the driving on the beach, because it is illegal to do so now. However, in Kekaha and Polihale, the large expanse of sand beaches makes it hazardous to impossible to walk to surfing or fishing spots.”
New signage displayed at the park spell out several rules, like no pets except service animals, no open fires or alcohol, no driving on sand dunes, and to use the restrooms, not the bushes.
“Respect this park or it will be closed,” the sign states.
The last press release issued by DLNR was in September, suggesting the park would be reopened in a few weeks, possibly before Labor Day.
One idea for enforcement was a stewardship agreement. Thirty speedbumps have been installed to discourage speeding and damage to the entry road. Long-term measures include capital improvement programs to protect the dunes, enhance access, parking and camping areas.
“There were management and enforcement problems that needed to be addressed, as well as, mitigating concerns raised by the lineal and cultural descendant families who have burials in the area,” Morikawa said. “Signage and revisions of rules needed to be made and only recently were the signs completed and installed.”
The park is only open for day use, between 5:30 a.m. to 7:45 p.m.
It’s not known when camping will open, Morikawa said. But, when it does, camping permits will be issued in the future at $20 per campsite for residents and $30 for non-residents.
“We all must take responsibility for our natural resources,” Morikawa said. “Our use will be dependent on how we care for the land.”
And that’s not just on the shoulders of enforcers, Morikawa said.
“We cannot depend solely on law enforcement, and we really don’t want them constantly on our backs watching every move we make, so we need to follow the rules and lead by example,” she said.
DLNR did not respond to request for comment.
I understand why it was shut down and hopefully people will take more care, July was the middle of the summer and people were out celebrating graduation so hopefully they’ve got it out of their system by now. But no driving on the sand? Where do they expect people to park? Along the dirt road and haul all their stuff to the water? With the distance and summer heat that’s a recipe for emergencies. There isn’t much space on the dirt road area to park and it’s narrow (unless they built something) and that’s just asking for break-ins parking your vehicle that far out of sight of anyone with so many bushes covering would be burglars.
Kauai is like Disneyland. Polihale State Park is like a ride within Disneyland. Obviously, visitors to the west side will not or cannot be responsible for keeping the park in excellent condition…so something must be done. (the shutdown in July was created when no mainland visitors were on island) I think a nominal fee is justified…just like what visitors pay in the canyon to park. Perhaps, for that fee, we can get better roads to the Park, a few security guards & daily maintenance crews, new restrooms, nice campgrounds spaces; and a place that we would be proud to bring our children to.
OR…since the State feels the need to punish everyone for the actions of a few (which they couldn’t bother to actually investigate), how about: remove all state property from the area and adhere to STATE LAW as it pertains to pubic beach access. As I remember its a $2000 fine for hindering access to beaches. Stop crying and do your jobs. We all paying more and more taxes every year, and infrastructure gets worse and worse. If the State wants to actually IMPROVE Polihale, station DLNR in the area DAILY, and not just to issue citations for mufflers and tint. Maybe they can protect the precious restroom facilities which were so pristine before the incident occurred last year.