Legalizing camping at Keawaiki Bay may not be a good idea, a handful of community members told planners working on the Kiholo State Park master plan and environmental assessment.
Draft planning documents indicated expanding camping from the existing sites focused around the central, Kiholo Bay area of the park to Keawaiki was one option the Department of Land and Natural Resources’ Parks Division was considering. Alan Brown, whose family has owned land at Keawaiki for about a century, said people do camp there, accessing the tidal flat sites with off-road vehicles over a lava trail.
“Access from Queen Kaahumanu is very difficult,” Brown said. “While you’re speaking of this being a wilderness park, you’re introducing vehicle traffic around our parcel.”
The problem, Brown added, was that it will also be incredibly difficult for the state to completely cut off the illegal camping and illegal access.
Planner Perry White agreed with Brown that installing an official access from the highway to the northern end of Kiholo would be difficult, especially because of the need for Department of Transportation approval.
Brown noted that getting that access would likely be too expensive for DLNR to do. He said he did agree with the DLNR’s proposed access to the central Kiholo area, with a new access road built off of the new Kiholo Bay scenic outlook.
Brown’s family has spent quite a bit of time trying to restore anchialine ponds on their property, he said. So far, they haven’t been successful.
“We poisoned our pond twice,” Brown said. “We killed thousands of tilapia and it doesn’t work. I just don’t think it’s possible.”
White acknowledged that the anchialine pond restoration is a lower priority in the plan than other proposed actions. Some work is already happening on anchialine ponds in the Kiholo Bay area of the park, Hui Aloha Kiholo’s Kuulei Keakealani said.
That organization, comprised of the area’s descendants who are acting as caretakers for the park, and helping manage the interim camping plan there, is already doing — or has funding to do — seven of the eight planned actions in the draft document, Keakealani said. The only potential action they aren’t doing right now, she said, is feral ungulate control. Other actions include fishpond restoration, restoring the Loretta Lynn house and archaeological and cultural interpretation.
“We obviously owe you guys a debt of gratitude for all the work you’ve done,” said Alan Carpenter, an archaeologist with the Parks Division.
One reason DLNR embarked on the planning process, he said, was to legitimize the actions the interim management plan was allowing.
“We had to have this (environmental document) to ask for money and (new staff),” Carpenter said. “We had to go this step.”
White said the document was supposed to provide a broad look at possible uses of the park, and isn’t meant to say exactly what the state will do with the park, just what could happen.
“We did not want to have a big, fancy plan that promises all this stuff and then fails,” he said.