HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - After being closed for more than year, the DLNR announced the Keawa’ula Section of Kaena State Park will be reopening this weekend.
Prior to the pandemic, the gates were open around the clock. They were closed in an effort to limit large gatherings that were jeopardizing the health and safety of the public and the coastal resources.
“We were gravely concerned based on these behaviors that people would not honor COVID-19 gathering restrictions. Our law enforcement division (DOCARE) is spread thin. The park’s remote location made limiting patronage by keeping the gates closed, the most prudent action to combat the spread of coronavirus,” Division of State Parks Administrator Curt Cottrell said.
Staffing is also an ongoing issue for the area as budget cuts led to the freezing of a second caretaker position. So far, only one caretaker is assigned to the area.
The DLNR says the state plans to close the area overnight starting at 7 p.m., and cars still parked in the area will be locked in.
DLNR officials say access will be granted so long as the public respects the area and follows the rules. They say vandalism and illegal nighttime activity will prompt a re-evaluation of gate access.
“We appreciate park usersʻ patience as we grapple with balancing public health with access and a goal to improve the protection of our coastal resources from abusive and inappropriate uses at Keawa’ula. There are members of the community on both sides of this issue so, only time and behavior will dictate our near-term management solutions and actions,” Cottrell added.
The state hopes daily access will be granted in the near future.