Polihale access denied!

SUBHEAD: It began in 2003. Now it's upon us. The Navy, State, and Syngenta have closed our public park.  

By Juan Wilson on 25 February 2009 for Island Breath

Image above: Sign for PMRF on Highway 50("DOE" is the U.S. Department of Energy & "Sandia Fac"is Sandia National Lab)- both are related to nuclear power and weapons systems)

[IB Publisher's note: The website Islanbreath.org began Januaury 1st 2004, in part because of the debate over a navy increase in authority and control of the Mana Plain. Back then, the Navy’s Pacific Missile Range Facility (PMRF) was seeking an expansion of its leased area and a “non-exclusive easement” over the almost six-thousand acres of land claimed by the State’s Department of Land & Natural Resources (DLNR).]

In the past the beaches from Kekaha to Polihale were used mostly for fishing, camping and watching sunsets. Inland was wetland and farming. The use of the area by the military began by an executive order in 1940. A site of about 550 acres was put aside to be used for bombing practice. Since then the site’s mission has changed as it has expanded north and south.

Over 1500 acres have been added to it. In 1966 the base was named the Pacific Missile Range Facility.

The primary mission of the PMRF is facilitating the testing of high-tech military systems and having a crucial monitoring and communication station in the middle of the pacific Ocean.
Unfortunately for us residents of Kauai, since 9-11 the Navy has used terrorism as an excuse to close miles of beaches from public access on the longest beach in the state of Hawaii.

Image above: Sign for Poli Hale State park with new temporary "Park Closed" sign attached put up by the Hawaii Department of Land & Natural Resources.

The fact of the matter is, the U.S. military does not want any members of the public on the Mana Plain or on the beaches of Barking Sands. They have way too much strategic interest in the area. Secrecy is important.
They have command and control of over one-million square miles of ocean, and they have top-secret weapons development programs underway. Why would they want to have a public road down the middle of their "backyard" for a bunch of unvetted locals (and tourists) to get to a State Park for their own pleasure?

The secrecy extends beyond the military. The Mana Plain is no longer the home of the town of Mana. The Hawaiians are gone and so are the sugarcane plantations, and small farmers. Whose there now? GMO experimenters.

Syngenta is the "big dog" out there and they don't want the public wandering around either. Corporate secrecy is important in the game of patenting life. As important as protection of intellectual property is the coverup of any horrendous mistakes.

Well, Poli Hale State Park and the public road that leads to it are closed. For your own safety. The road has not been maintained. The ditches have washed out around some crossings, the water pumps at the park are broken and the toilets are not working. The DLNR now says they need a part of a statewide appropriation of $40-million for anything to be done about all this!

Image above: Locked gate on public access road to Poli Hale with permanent "State Park Closed" sign. The road is quickly growing over with exotic plants.

On January 4, 2004 we published Joan Conrow’s comments: 

PMRF Land Grab Part One

“In less than a decade, the PMRF has slipped from hero to zero on Kauai, and it’s still sinking down. Whereas the westside base -- key to the “Star Wars” missile interception program -- once could do no wrong, now it can do no right, as some 200 hostile residents pointed out at a November 13, 2003 meeting at Kalaheo School.... They simply weren’t buying the navy’s claim that it seeks only to ensure the longterm compatibility of its neighbors and has no plans to expand or further restrict public access. And they laughed outright when navy spokesmen offered assurances that the state, as the policing entity for the deal, would keep PMRF in line. “We don’t trust the navy or the state, so where do we start?” asked Anahola resident James Torio. Many who have been involved in the struggle to reopen the beaches pointed out that the state either cannot or will not enforce the existing lease agreement with PMRF, which requires beach access. They said there is no reason to believe the state will be any more effective in enforcing lease provisions attached to the buffer zone.

Image above: Open gate to Syngenta GMO field just past the State Park access road.In the distance is "Mordor" - The secret Navy mountain retreat labeled as an ordinance storage facility on most maps.

Four years later, on january 30th 2008 we wrote in
"Back in 2004, the Navy requested from the State of Hawaii to have perpetual control of the Mana Plain through the PMRF (Pacific Missile Range Facility) with a easement agreement with the DLNR (The Hawaii State Department of Land & Natural Resources). They wanted an agreement that would cost them nothing and last forever. Thanks to the public outcry and efforts of Joanne Yukimura they got a thirty year agreement. Still too much by far. Several people, including myself, worried that the agreement and the plans for PMRF expansion would threaten access to Polihale State Park and the remainder of the western beaches still available to the public."
Quote from letter I wrote to Senator Inouye on 11/9/03

"...Moreover, we have lost access to the beach front from Kekole Point to Queen’s Pond. That’s 7.5 miles of the longest, most beautiful ribbon of sandy beach front in Hawaii. This Navy land grab will cut off the northernmost beaches as well. Polihale State Park will be history unless you’re wearing ID tags and have clearance. These beaches, with their back to the pali facing unmatched sunsets, are significant places of rest, recreation and spiritual renewal for the people of Kauai. We must have these beaches to live here."
Portion of article by Linda Pascatore who wrote in Island Breath on 4/27/04

"...An issue not addressed by our legislators is the existing loss of public access to a long stretch of beach from Kekaha to Polihale State Park. This area was traditionally used by fishermen, shell gatherers, and campers. Access was originally promised when the state agreed to lease to the Navy, but has been severely restricted since 9-11. If the Navy is given control over the additional 6,000 acres, many fear loss of access to Polihale State Park, which is a valued recreational area and sacred site to many here on Kauai."
Quote from unpublished letter I wrote to Garden Island News 6/3/03

"...During 'military exercises' they may feel justified closing off the west end of the island. We maybe unable to reach Polihale, Queens Pond or Barking Sands. These places are vital recreational areas – isolated, rustic and spiritually significant to many of us. Will the military eventually control the entire area, and close our state park?"
It is clear that our worst fears are coming to fruition. Through "neglect" the PMRF and the State of Hawaii are pinching off the use of our state park. Through what appears to be incompetence, the State Parks Department has lost the operation of its pumps to supply drinking water and toilet water at Polihale. The public toilets have been closed. The care of the access road to the state park has not been maintained by the state, county or military.

Due to its poor condition the access road has been "officially" closed since last year. Recently, the access gates have been closed denying even knowledgeable locals their normal work-arounds. It seems that there is a deliberate negligence going on here. There are supposedly contracts to repair these infra structure failings going back to 2006. Where are the results?

Image above: The back entrance to "Mordor". Note the Navy maintains this road diligently. It is newly blacktopped and the grass is a 1/2" tall. Where's the work on the public road?

Few remember, but the Navy promised to maintain the public's access to Polihale State Park when they were negotiating with the DLNR for an easement over 6,000 acres of the Mana Plain. This promise was made by Captain R. J. Connely, who was the commanding officer of the PMRF (Pacific Missile Range Facility) in 2004. 

In fact, the Commander of the Navy Region Hawaii bragged: 
"The state will continue to own the land and control all access. The Navy does not intend to impose any restrictions that would impede access to Polihale State Park. In fact, the Navy recently graded the dirt road leading to Polihale, improving access for the public."
What has followed has not been a reasonable maintenance of the access road. What the PMRF plans is for increasing use of the area by ever greater dangers to the public (directed energy laser program, amphibious attack simulations etc.)

Image above: The warning sign at the entrance to "Mordor". A minute after I took this shot a white PMRF pickup was dispatched down the hill to check me out.

That was then. This is now. Poli Hale State Park is closed again. If you try and go out there now you will run across a PMRF white pickup or a Syngenta white SUV.

One or the other will call in the DLNR foot-soldiers and they will give you a hard time. About a week ago I got a call from a gal who tried to ride out the state park on a bicycle. For her "safety" the DLNR bullied her out of there.

The PMRF, the GMO companies and the DLNR would be perfectly happy if the state park simply disappeared. They are doing their best to make this so. There is now an effort to organize a walk out to our state park on the solar equinox - march 21st 2009. We will make whatever announcements are appropriate as the information is available.

Screw the Navy! Screw the DLNR! Screw Syngenta!

They certainly have screwed us.

Some people to connect to on this issue:

Tom Clement: Public Relations PMRF
PO Box 128, Kekaha HI 96752-0128
email: thomas.h.clements@navy.mil

Laura H. Theilen: Director of DLNR
PO Box 621 Honolulu, HI 96809
phone: 808-587-0404
fax: 808-587-0390

Ron Agor: Kauai Board Representative DLNR
4374 Kukui Grove - Suite 204, Lihue HI 96766
phone: 808-245-4550
email: agorarch@hisemail.net

Kevin Macmahon:
Manager Syngenta Seeds
PO Box 0237 Kekaha HI 96752-0237
7050 Kaumualii Hwy
phone: 808-337-1408

Gary Hooser: Kauai State Senator
Hawaii State Capitol, Room 208 415 South Beretania Street, Honolulu HI 96813
phone: 808-586-6030fax: 808-586-6031
email: senhooser@capitol.hawaii.gov

Roland Sagum III: Kauai State Represenative
PO Box 25, Lawai, HI 96765
phone: 808-652-9811
email: repsagum@capitol.hawaii.gov

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