Return of sea turtle nesting prompts months-long closure of overnight camping at Bellows

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Closure scheduled from April 19 through Sept. 2; Weekend day-use allowed

HONOLULU (KHON2) — The overnight campgrounds at Bellows will be closed for about 19 weeks following the anticipated return of sea turtle nesting.

Marine Corps Base Hawaii (MCBH) and the Honolulu Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) have been documenting seven Hawaiian green sea turtle nesting sites along Bellows Field Beach Park since last year.

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“We recognize that the campground at Bellows is one of our largest and most popular camping areas on Oahu,” said Laura H. Thielen, Director of DPR. “As a result of camping being suspended there for several months, we are exploring how to offer more camping opportunities at some of our other campgrounds.”

The closure is scheduled to last from April 19 through September 2 but may be extended should there be more nesting sites discovered. The twilight use of the bathroom and shower facilities will also be closed.

Weekend day-use and military training exercises on the weekdays will still be allowed.

The arrival of turtles at Bellows last year was truly unprecedented for us,” said Lt. Col. Tim Pochop, Marine Corps Base Hawaii’s Environmental Division Director. “This year we are being proactive in providing an area for these turtles to nest and hatch, which means limiting nighttime activities. As part of our program MCBH has also implemented a beach monitoring program to identity sea turtle nesting activity along Bellows Beach.”

Pochop said they believe this approach balances the needs of the community, military operations and environmental efforts.

The closure is necessary to ensure the protection of these endangered species as the turtles nest, incubate, and hatch along the shoreline. Several human activities in this area have threatened the safety of the nesting turtles in the past, such as illegal beach off-roading, camping fires, dogs, illegal trash dumping, and the presence of artificial lighting.

Everyone is encouraged to report any disturbing or illegal behavior against the turtles or nests by calling (808) 285-9529 or (808) 257-2123.

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