HILO, Hawaii (KHON2) — The Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) notified a group of people who have illegally taken over a portion of the Wailoa River State Recreation Area that they have until 5 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 6, to remove tents and other camping gear.
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The notice was delivered in a variety of ways on the morning of Tuesday, Jan. 5, by DLNR Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement (DOCARE) officers. One order was taped to a sign the group had erected at the park’s entrance, another was directly given to the group’s leader and a third was posted in a small encampment.
The group has claimed jurisdiction and planted between 50 to 60 taro plants and banana trees across a football-sized field within the State park, according to the DLNR. The participants do not have permits for planting or erecting signs.
“No matter their professed claims of of ownership, this recreation area and all other State Parks belong to all of Hawai‘i for the enjoyment by residents and visitors. Park users have expressed concerns that members of this group are ignoring County and State mandates to wear masks during the COVID-19 pandemic.”DOCARE Chief Jason Redulla
One individual was drumming an instrument at the park’s entrance on Tuesday, Jan. 5, according to the DLNR, while another was mowing the grass around fresh plantings.
The DLNR said, approximately 12 people appeared to be part of the group on Tuesday, Jan. 5, but reports over the weekend of Saturday, Jan. 2, indicated the gathering had swelled to 75 or more participants.
Any materials that are not removed from the Wailoa River State Recreation Area by 5 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 6, will be considered as abandoned property.