Crime and pollution forces Bellows beach to close temporarily

Col. Robert Rice
Col. Robert Rice
Kekoa Ho
Kekoa Ho

By Mari-Ela David - bio | email

WAIMANALO (KHNL) - A popular Oahu camping site along the Windward Shore, is now closed for the rest of June.

The military says people have been abusing Bellows Beach.

From drugs, fights, to car break-ins, the military says Bellows Beach, is no longer safe for people and the environment.

Burnt bark from a campfire, piles of trash including hazardous waste, like car batteries butted up against tree trunks, a pile of beer bottles in fire pits, off-roading on the beach, and the list goes on at Bellows Beach.

"We don't want to bring a patty wagon in and arrest everybody who's breaking the rules," said Col. Robert Rice, a Marine Corps Base Hawaii (MCBH) Commander.

But the boiling point was Memorial Day Weekend, when military police made two arrests: one for drugs, the other for illegal dumping.

"We had a vehicle come in the middle of the night and attempt to dump a whole trail load of construction debris into the creek," said Rice.

One tree is an example of the kind of abuse going on there. If you take a look at its stubs, they had to be cut because people kept ripping off its branches to use for campfires. Rice says the City has even had to cut down trees that have been killed due to people ripping off roots to fuel their fires.

To curb this destructive behavior,MCBH has temporarily closed Bellows for the month.

"We're surprised by the reports, but we're even more surprised by the immediate and drastic changes," said Kekoa Ho, Waimanalo Neighborhood Board Chair.

Ho says he's all for taking care of the aina, but says the closure cuts into kid's summer break. He also says the closure comes at a time when more people are taking staycations.

"We just think it's hard on the people who want to camp who already have permits to camp, to just cut them short," Ho said.

But the military says those who already have permits for June, will be placed at the top of the list for the Fourth of July weekend, which is when Bellows is set to re-open.

The military, along with the City, will spend the month putting up barriers, so people can't drive their cars or ATV's on the beach.

They'll also put up more signs listing the rules, and increase military police presence, once Bellows Beach re-opens.