The state Department of Land and Natural Resources, Division of State Parks just announced it will continue to accept public comments on the Master Plan and EIS for Ha‘ena State Park through Oct. 8.
The legal public comment period ended Wednesday, but is being extended in response to requests from the public to allow more time to review the large and complex document that sets a course for the future of the heavily visited North Shore state park.
A public meeting held in Hanalei on Aug. 19 to present the plan to the public attracted nearly 300 people, many of whom felt there was not enough time to adequately review the plan and provide comments by the Sept. 8 deadline. Additional written requests for more time have been received by DLNR.
“We believe it is important for the public to have additional time to digest and provide quality feedback to improve the plan, so we are extending the comment period at this time,” said Curt Cottrell, newly selected State Parks Administrator.
The Division of State Parks and consultant PBR Hawai‘i have worked collaboratively with the community to develop and refine a master plan for the park. As part of the master planning process, a 32-member master plan advisory committee was established to help refine a community preferred plan, focusing on the cultural and historical significance of the area.
The MPAC is comprised of kupuna, Ha‘ena ‘ohana, cultural practitioners, the Hui Maka‘ainana o Makana, and representatives from organizations such as the Hanalei Watershed Hui, Hanalei Hawaiian Civic Club, Hanalei-Ha‘ena Community Association, Hanalei Roads Committee, Limahuli Garden Preserve, Kaua‘i Visitors Bureau, Kaua‘i North Shore Business Council, Princeville Community Association, Kayak Kaua‘i, and government agencies such as Office of Hawaiian Affairs, County of Kaua‘i Planning Department and Department of Transportation, Highways Division.
One of the recommendations proposed is to implement a daily visitor limit of 900, which is less than half of the current peak visitation. This does not include cultural practitioners, special user groups such as halau, lo‘i work groups, nor hikers with permits to the Kalalau trail and hunters with valid hunting permits.
Hā‘ena is among the most heavily visited parks in the Hawai‘i State Park system, resulting in parking and vehicle congestion affecting the significant natural and cultural resources that make it so desirable a place to visit, according to DLNR.
In the near term plan, for the public’s safety, an interpretive corridor is being proposed for makai of the highway, that will connect to a welcome pavilion to Kē‘ē Beach and take people away from a rockfall hazard area. The corridor consists of a pathway that will traverse the taro lo‘i being cultivated by members of the Hui Maka‘ainana o Makana. The proposed welcome pavilion is a way to manage access to the park and to provide visitors with an orientation session that seeks to inform and educate them about the resources in the area.
The draft EIS is available for download at http://dlnr.hawaii.gov/dsp/announcements/.
Comments should be sent by Oct. 8 to Lauren Tanaka, Division of State Parks, 1151 Punchbowl St., Room 310, Honolulu, HI 96813 or by email to: Lauren.A.Tanaka@hawaii.gov or to Kimi Yuen, PBR Hawaii, 1001 Bishop St., Suite 650, Honolulu, HI 96813 with email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
To receive a written response, include a full name and mailing address if sending comments by email.