HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Six more Hawaii state parks will soon begin charging parking or entry fees to visitors and tour companies. The state received approval Thursday to begin charging fees for parks on Kauai, Maui and the Big Island. Paying a fee to visit a state park may not be popular with some tourists, but the state says it necessary.
"We don't want to close parks. New York just closed forty-three, Arizona closed thirteen state parks and we are very marginal right now. In order to keep the Hawaii state park system afloat we have to diversify on how we generate income," said Curt Cottrell, the Assistant Administrator at the Department of Land and Natural Resources.
So the state board gave final approval for new parking or entrance fees for eight state parks, choosing the two most visited parks on each island. The parks include Iao Valley and Makena on Maui, Hapuna and Akaka Falls on the Big Island, and Kokee and Ha'ena on Kauai.
Visitors are already paying fees to visit both Diamond Head and the Pali Lookout. A $3.00 parking charge at the Pali went into effect in March, but not everyone is a fan.
"To come to the Pali overlook and pay $3.00 and stand here for three minutes seems a little pricey to me," said Randy Ketelsen, a part-time Hawaii resident.
"We've been coming up here for years and we were surprised, we said wow we have to pay to park," said Arnold Hill, a former Hawaii resident.
But the state says they have generated $26,000 in revenue from the Pali over the past three months, and they hope to bring in over $2 million a year once all the fees are in place.
"Just in order to keep the parks open, clean safe and well managed. To pay the utilities, pay the water bills, it's for basis operations at this point,"aid Cottrell.
No local residents will have to pay any fee, and some tourists say $2 or $3 is worth it.
"I don't mind paying it if it's going to help keep up the park and keep it beautiful like this," said Jerry Robertson, of Alabama.
"Don't close the parks, we got to have them. We got to keep our parks, if it costs a couple extra bucks and a few less beers, it's all good," said Hill.
Fees at Iao Valley State Park will go into effect in July, the rest should be in place by the middle of next year.