State cracks down on illegal campers, hikers on Napali Coast

State cracks down on illegal campers, hikers on Napali Coast

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The Kalalau section of the Napali Coast State Wilderness Park on Kauai is one of the most beautiful and renowned hikes in the world.

That's made it a target for illegal campers and tours, but they're hopeful new efforts to crack down will keep people off the cliffs and out of cuffs.

Under state law, only people with state Department of Land and Natural Resources permits are allowed to travel beyond Hanakapiai Stream. Nearly 6,000 were issued in 2015 alone, but officials say hundreds more break the law every day, which is pushing the nature preserve beyond its limits.

"When you get this much pressure on our natural resources, it gets to be hard to manage and it gets to wearing on the natural resource and on everyone," said Suzanne Case, DLNR chairwoman.

Since January, the state has cited 104 people and arrested one man, but officials say the inaccessible nature of the Napali Coast limits their efforts.

"The logistics and the high costs involved with these operations make it impractical at this time to hold a sustained presence there," said Thomas Friel, DOCARE Chief.

Officials say 60 permits are issued every night with the max stay limited to five days. But during the summer, upwards of 200 people have been reported on the beach. Park officials say they're hiring illegal tours to drop them off in the area by either jet ski or boat.

"In a two-week period of clean-up we hauled out 4,000 pounds of rubbish that was not brought in by hikers but that was brought in by the illegal boat traffic -- bringing in people with alcohol, mattresses, surfboards, tables -- the kinds of stuff that you don't see in a wilderness backpacking experience," said Curt Cottrell, with DLNR's Division of State Parks.

A half-hour special airing this weekend on KFVE is hoping to raise awareness about the state's efforts to preserve Kalalau's beauty for future generations. "Renegades, Risks and Rewards of the Napali Coast" highlights DLNR's efforts to crackdown on illegal hikers and campers.

"Hopefully the word will get out that there is a way to go and see the beauty but do it the right way," said KFVE General Manager John Fink.

"Renegades, Risks and Rewards of the Napali Coast" airs Saturday at 6:30 p.m. and Sunday at 7 p.m. on KFVE.

Copyright 2016 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved