State seeks long-term solutions to Makua Beach trash problem

State seeks long-term solution to Makua Beach problem
(Image: Hawaii News Now)
(Image: Hawaii News Now)

WAIANAE, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The state is eying long-term solutions to a major trash problem at Makua Beach, including proposals that would limit the number of campers allowed in the area.

"What we need to do is take this much use and bring it down to a reasonable level," said state Parks Administrator Curt Cottrell.

The area is closed during the week, and the state has allowed campers to stay over the weekend for years.

However, thanks to growing popularity and exposure on social media, the beach has become overrun with hundreds of campers, who leave behind mountains of trash.

Officials estimate 500 to 800 vehicles were there over the holiday weekend.

"If there are that many cars, there has to be 1,000 people here -- (with) no toilets, no bathrooms, no water system," said Alan Carpenter, assistant administrator for state parks.

The state is considering several long-term solutions that would address the situation.

Among the possible options: A temporary full closure of the dirt access road to the beach and turning the area into a revenue-generating camping area.

"I think we could set up easily 12 to 15 camp sites at 10 people per site, Cottrell said.

But the long-term solutions would mean a state appropropriation from lawmakers. And Cottrell says over the past 20 years, funding has been basically flat, while usage has skyrocketed. The region is also woefully understaffed.

"From here, Makua, all the way out to the point, which is a natural area reserve, and to the Mokuleia side, we have one employee dealing with all of this," said Carpenter.

Meanwhile, handing out citations isn't in the short-term picture, but could be in the future.

Cottrell said changes could be made as early as fall.

In the meantime, community stakeholders continue to clean the beach week after week. Micah Doane, of Protectors of Paradise, said he supports efforts to address the situation.

"If people can't be responsible and use their common sense, then I totally support there being some type of management system out here," he said.

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