Officers form the state Department of Land and Natural Resources arrested 17 people at the Kalalau Section of the Napali Coast State Wilderness Park, during a pair of law enforcement sweeps earlier last week, according to a DLNR press release.
Officers from the DLNR Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement arrested people without valid permits for being in a closed area. They believe among the 17, were three people who’d been illegally residing in Kalalau Valley for long periods of time.
“We continue to hear about a lot of illegal activity at Kalalau through social media channels,” said DOCARE Enforcement Chief Robert Farrell. “Some of the behavior depicted on blogs and websites is brazen, clearly illegal, disrespectful to the Hawaiian culture, damaging to natural resources, and completely devoid of any appreciation for the wilderness character of the Napali Coast.”
DOCARE Kaua‘i Branch Chief Francis “Bully” Mission added the designated camping areas at Kalalau Beach are largely free of illegal camps, but there are still numbers of them up in the valley, where they tend to be remote and often pretty well hidden.
“It makes it challenging for our officers, but we remain committed to stopping illegal behavior in this wilderness park,” Mission said.
Enforcement operations to the Napali Coast are expensive, complicated, and time-consuming not only for DOCARE, but also for the DLNR Division of State Parks. It conducts at least monthly airlifts of accumulated rubbish and human waste. Both Chief Farrell and State Parks Administrator Curt Cottrell said that as Hawai‘i’s largest and most remote state park, funding has never been provided for having any full-time staff assigned to the Napali Coast.
“If there’s any silver lining to what law breakers are posting on social media, is that it’s caused significant public outrage,” Cottrell said. “Our hope is to get new positions and funding authorized specifically dedicated to the Napali Coast to tackle this ongoing issue.”
DOCARE and State Parks are continuing to collaborate on future law enforcement and clean-up operations as resources permit. Officers continue to take a hard line against anyone contacted who can’t produce a permit.
“No permit and you will be arrested and then have to appear in court,” Farrell said.
Travel from the Kalalau Trailhead at Ke‘e Beach does not require a permit to Hanakapi‘ai Stream; the first two miles of the trail and another two miles up valley after the stream crossing, to Hanakapi‘ai Falls. The nine miles of coastline trail beyond the stream crossing requires an overnight permit, obtainable from State Parks.