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Thursday, April 13, 2000

Parasailing may come
to Kauai; state land
board to consider rules

The proposal also must
go to public hearing, and
get the governor's OK

By Anthony Sommer
Kauai correspondent


LIHUE -- The state Board of Land and Natural Resources may take the first step tomorrow to allow parasailing in waters off Kauai.

The board is scheduled to vote on draft regulations allowing up to four permits and up to eight parasailing boats off Poipu on the south shore of Kauai. Kauai is the only county where parasailing is not allowed.

Parasailing involves towing people in parachutes with a boat. The parachutes lift them in the air and they "sail" high above the water until the boat comes to a stop.

Even if the board gives its preliminary approval, the draft regulations must be approved by the governor and a public hearing must be conducted on Kauai.

Among those expected to apply for a parasailing permit is Jeremy Hillstrom, 22, of Anahola.

Last year, Hillstrom ran a "pirate" parasailing operation off Poipu, taking tourists three miles offshore to escape state jurisdiction. He shut down when state officials threatened to seize his boat for illegally taking paid customers across state waters without a permit to run a tour boat.

"I could have fought them in court, but I didn't want to risk the boat," he said.

Hillstrom said he has $50,000 invested in his boat and equipment. His brothers run parasailing tours on Oahu.

Hillstrom first applied for a permit more than four years ago. He said Department of Land and Natural Resources officials told him he couldn't get a permit to tow tourists on parachutes because there are no parasailing regulations covering Kauai. He said they also told him there are no parasailing regulations because the agency doesn't have the money to send a hearing officer to Kauai.

Department boating chief Howard Gehring said in a prepared statement yesterday that the parasailing regulations had been packaged with regulations covering boating on the Wailua River. Like Kauai parasailing, there are no regulations to set up a permitting process for kayak tours on the river.

"So the parasailing rules were moved out to expedite the process and they are now ready to go to the state Land Board for approval," the statement said.

In 1988, the state held a hearing to designate an area off Hanapepe for "thrill craft," which include parasailing and personal watercraft such as jetskis. However, residents objected, and the County Council passed a resolution asking the state to keep "thrill craft" out of Hanapepe.

The regulations under consideration tomorrow do not involve personal watercraft.

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