The Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources reported more than 200 beachgoers late into the night at Kaena Point State Park, officers said it was a violation of emergency rules and it took hours to clean up the mess left behind.
DLNR officers said they recorded about 170 cars before losing count, they said many of them attended a weekend party at Mokuleia Beach.
Volunteer groups like Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii spent Memorial Day picking up trash left behind on Oahu shorelines as more people leave their homes for the outdoors.
The organization’s operations manager, Rachael Roehl, said they have noticed more waste left behind in recent weeks.
Roehl said, “We already have enough rubbish washing up on our coastlines from the Pacific Gyre, we don’t need any more from people leaving it carelessly behind, it’s dangerous for the wildlife because they can eat it. It’s dangerous for humans as well.”
According to DLNR officials, the weekend crowds broke COVID-19 emergency rules, they had no permits for large gatherings at the state park, as well as ignited trash and pallets for bonfires. Open fires are outlawed on Hawaii Beaches.
Michael Loftin is the Executive Director at 808 Cleanups, a group of volunteers who clean up recreational areas like parks and beaches.
Loftin said more people are being conscious to clean-up after themselves, but the bonfires over the weekend could be dangerous for the environment and people.
“People have been improving their practices, I think more people are more mindful and more aware, it’s a slow process but it’s very unfortunate to see the return of this,” Loftin said. “The pallet bonfires, and leaving the rubbish in the photos, we saw the burnt pallets which leave behind nails in the sand and could hurt people long term.”
Park enforcement officers said they also addressed illegal camping issues over the weekend, they said the majority of people complied once they were informed of the rules and did not issue citations.