State ignores outcry at Kokee Plan

SUBHEAD: Residents reject Kokee entrance fees. Public tell DLNR to preserve park "as is". You can still submit testimony by letter or e-mail until November 19, 2009. [Editor's Note: After years of countless public meetings and almost unanimous requests to preserve Kokee as it is, the state continues to ignore the public and move ahead on plans to develop Kokee and turn it into an income generator for the rest of the park system. You can still submit public comments by November 19th, e-mailed to: or mailed to: DLNR, Reacreational Renaissance Rules PO Box 621 Honolulu, HI 06809] By Paul C Curtis on 5 November 2009 in The Garden Island - PUHI — Michael Ornellas of Kapa‘a said his father warned him that one day he would lose access to the very place he was born and raised, the mountains of the Eastside. The idea of losing access to hunting grounds in Koke‘e on the Westside is unfathomable, he said. State Department of Land and Natural Resources officials heard comments from dozens of community members who testified Wednesday evening at the Chiefess Kamakahelei Middle School cafeteria. The hearing was held to address the proposed amendments to Hawai‘i Administrative Rules governing state parks that would allow DLNR to charge admission to state parks and use the money to support the park system, among other things. . “Koke‘e is the only place all of us get access to,” Ornellas said, adding that several of the places he and others used to hunt on the North Shore and Eastside are no longer accessible due to gates erected by private landowners. “Listen to everybody.” Robert Girald, a lifelong Puhi resident who also recalls unfettered access to the mountains and ocean while growing up, said Koke‘e is now the only mountain place remaining for public hunting here and needs to remain available to hunters. “Keep it wilderness. Keep it Kaua‘i,” said Girald, who also recalled a short-lived federal idea in 1964 to make Koke‘e a national park. After local public opposition, the national-park idea “faded away,” he said. “Let’s keep things simple. We don’t need all of that,” he said of an entrance gate, entrance fees for visitors, concessions and other ideas conceived to generate revenue for state-land upkeep. “Let’s keep it a wilderness park,” said Girald, adding that he is surprised that after hours of public testimony against the state’s Recreational Renaissance Plan B to fund repair and maintenance of state parks and harbors that there have been no proposed changes to the plan. There are so many new rules proposed that the state will need to hire more people just to enforce the rules, he said. The public opposition to the proposed erection of an entry gate and an entry fee for visitors to Koke‘e State Park and Ha‘ena State Park was seemingly unanimous. And all those who spoke on proposed increases in mooring fees at state harbors opposed such increases. Richard Iwamoto, a Westside commercial akule fisherman, said an increase in mooring fees for his boat would be passed on to consumers, moving the price of akule from $6 a pound to $7.20 a pound in local stores. Most people who eat akule are elderly who can’t absorb the additional cost, “So what’s going to happen? We sure as hell can’t fish for a loss,” Iwamoto said. The community and people are against a gate and entrance fees at Koke‘e State Park, said Adrian “Cowboy” Malina, who was given the three minutes of several other registered speakers and said the “sweat equity” used to fix the road access leading to Polihale State Park could also be used to fix up Koke‘e. Malina, who was cited and had to go to court for the way he went about trying to improve Koke‘e roads and waters (like removing invasive ginger from streams in apparent violation of federal and state Clean Water Acts), said he would “go to court anytime for the right thing.” He also advocated finding a nonprofit to fix up and manage run-down state cabins at Koke‘e, and that fellow hunters he talks to would be willing to donate vehicles, equipment and labor for park improvements. One recreational boater said proposed increases for mooring fees at state harbors would be “raping the boaters,” and said what the state describes as “modest increases” in mooring fees are anything but modest. A rise in mooring fees at Hanalei Bay from $30 to over $1,000 is not modest. “The people will help you,” but the proposed fee increases are “off the planet,” the boater said. Other speakers said people won’t pay the increased mooring fees in Hanalei Bay because they can’t afford them. “Hawai‘i should have world-class (harbor) facilities,” but don’t, said Dick Olsen, former commodore of the Nawiliwili Yacht Club. If the state can’t afford world-class harbor facilities, they should seriously consider privatization of state harbors, he said. “Koke‘e is not bad, and you guys (state DLNR officials from O‘ahu) just don’t get it,” said Ned Dana. “You guys need to learn from Kaua‘i.” Dana added that the plan should have started with public meetings to gauge what the public wants, instead of coming up with a plan first then conducting statewide meetings on the proposals. Linda Marsh of Bubbles Below scuba charters said six-passenger-boat operations like hers can’t survive with increased mooring fees. “I may very well be forced to sink my boat” if it costs $3,000 to moor for the summer in Hanalei Bay, said Phil Green. “This is absurd. These are not modest increases.” Mary Lu Kelley said she doesn’t like the way the state plan is being pushed in front of the ongoing development of a Koke‘e master plan. “We do not want a gate. We don’t want another lodge in Koke‘e,” she said, adding that she wants vacant lands and vacant cabins auctioned off. Several speakers including Bruce Pleas of Kekaha said entrance fees collected on Kaua‘i should stay on Kaua‘i, while another speaker said the state plan continues the attack on the mountains, heritage and history of Kaua‘i. “You guys aren’t even going to listen to us,” she said to state officials, adding that they don’t understand “our connection with the land.” “Kaua‘i is not a zoo,” and Kauaians don’t want entry gates, concession stands and parking lots, said another speaker. At least 60 people attended the meeting. Canen Ho‘okano, chair of the Koke‘e Advisory Council, said increasing the administrative fee visitors pay when they rent vehicles would raise more money than the plan to institute entry fees at eight state parks across the state. “Koke‘e is self-sustainable by itself. Let’s start getting a little more creative” in fund-raising ideas, said Ho‘okano. Nancy Budd, also a member of the Koke‘e Advisory Council, said there are lots of other ways to raise lots more money than through entry fees, that each island finds its own special places sacred, and that management of parks should be sensitive to the local mana‘o, or knowledge. The current proposed Koke‘e master plan ignores several years of public opposition, said Budd. “(The state) should trash this paper. No Plan B, no gates,” said Puanani Rogers. The state should go with the Koke‘e Advisory Council’s recommendations for the park, “and let it be ours, not yours.” Rogers spoke of the cultural, archaeological and historical significance of Ha‘ena and Koke‘e, and said, “Please do not mess around with our burials, OK?” Dayne Aipoalani of the Polynesian Kingdom of Atooi sovereignty group served papers on Dan Quinn, state parks administrator, saying 92,000 acres of crown lands in Waimea, Koke‘e, Alaka‘i and Na Pali belong to the Hawaiian people, not the state. The cease-and-desist order also claims the state is trespassing. “The lands that you talk about do not belong to you,” said Rogers. Public comments on the state plans must be postmarked (via U.S. mail) or e-mailed by Nov. 19, to, or mailed to DLNR, Recreational Renaissance Rules, P.O. Box 621, Honolulu, HI 96809. More information on the comprehensive plan is available at The proposed rules are available online at Copies for public review are available Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. (except furlough Fridays) at the DLNR district offices for the Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation (at Kukui Grove Professional Village), and State Parks and Forestry and Wildlife (in the Lihu‘e State Office Building). People may also make written requests for mailed copies by sending name and mailing address in correspondence sent to the DLNR address above. see also: Ea O Ka Aina: Save Kokee Meeting 6/28/09 Island Breath: Kokee will never be the same 7/27/06 Island Breath: DLNR Betrayal of Kokee 7/26/06

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