One person has been arrested and dozens more cited during a law-enforcement operation at Kalalau Beach in the Napali Coast State Wilderness Park on Kauai.
A cleanup operation also resulted in tons of accumulated trash being airlifted from the area.
The operations were conducted by the state Department of Land and Natural Resources over the past month.
On Thursday, Jan. 4, officials say Francis “Alekai” Kinimaka of Hanalei was arrested by DLNR Division of Conservation and Resources (DOCARE) officers after he landed a personal watercraft on Kalalau Beach, which is a closed area, without a permit. He was cited with a total of four petty misdemeanors, and the watercraft was taken into evidence.
Kinimaka’s passenger was also cited for not having a permit to be in the area.
“We want people to know that we have a zero-tolerance attitude toward any type of unlawful activities along the Napali Coast,” said Francis “Bully” Mission, DOCARE Kauai Branch Chief.
During four separate enforcement visits in January and February, DOCARE officers issued nearly 70 citations to hikers and backpackers who did not have state-issued camping permits. These permits allow a maximum of 60 people to camp in designated areas fronting Kalalau Beach for five days at a time.
“The Napali Coast is perhaps the most photographed area in all of Hawaii. It is heavily used and this is the reason we have laws that balance visitation with protection of natural and cultural resources along the coast and within the Napali’s stunning valleys,” said DLNR chair Suzanne Case.
Maintenance crews from the DLNR Division of State Parks fly into Kalalau at least once a month to maintain overtaxed composting toilets, perform trail maintenance and fly out tons of trash.
During this week’s clean-up operation, a dozen unpermitted camps and abandoned property were removed. These camps were posted with “notices to vacate” several weeks ago. Items taken from the camps will be stored for 30 days and unless rightful owners reclaim their items, they will be discarded.
DLNR State Parks Administrator Curt Cottrell explained that “most of the rubbish being flown out of Kalalau was not carried in on someone’s back. Plastic lawn chairs, gallon glass bottles of alcohol, huge pop-up tents, full-sized air mattresses, and other non-backpacking materials have been found in unpermitted camps in some of the most prime designated camping spots along Kalalau Beach.”
The largest camp dismantled this week is believed to be Kinimaka’s base camp, officials said. Campers report men coming through the designated campground early each day asking if anyone wants a ride out.
“We are serious about shutting down the illegal commercial activity which is despoiling the landscape, impacting sensitive cultural sites, and often creating a very unpleasant experience for legal campers,” said DOCARE Chief Thomas Friel. “We’re putting the illegal operators on notice right now, that if you continue, you will be caught, cited, and could face criminal penalties.”