State airs tighter wilderness rules
Hearings will be held on DLNR's proposals for wilderness areas
Tighter restrictions for some of Hawaii's unique biological ecosystems and geological formations will be considered at simultaneous hearings in each county on Wednesday.
Public hearings on rules changes for the state's 19 natural area reserves will be conducted by the Department of Land and Natural Resources, it announced in a release.
Proposed changes are intended to give the department more authority to protect the reserves, which encompass more than 109,000 acres of marine and coastal environments, lava flows, tropical rain forests and an alpine desert.
Within the reserves live rare plants and animals, many of which are on the edge of extinction. The reserves also protect some of the major watershed areas that provide Hawaii's vital sources of fresh water, the department said.
Shortcomings in the existing rules have made it diffi-cult for the department to effectively respond to threats to the reserves, according to the release. Recent examples include the department's difficulty regulating public use at 'Ahihi-Kina'u Natural Area Reserve on Maui, and preventing illegal activity such as poaching and squatting in lava caves.
The proposed rule changes will provide clear authority for the Board of Land and Natural Resources to temporarily close a natural area reserve, if needed, for the protection of the natural resources, or to set visiting hours for reserves, DLNR Director Peter Young said in the release.
Changes proposed in Hawaii Administrative Rules Chapter 13-209 would:
» Remove bedroll camping as an activity allowed without a permit.
» Require permits for hiking and nature study for groups of 10 or more.
» Allow service animals accompanying their masters within a natural area reserve.
» Would prohibit the establishment of residences within a natural area reserve.
» Prohibit the possession of tools, equipment or implements used to take, injure or kill marine life, plant life or wildlife in a natural area reserve.
» Prohibit anchoring in marine waters in a natural area reserve.
» Prohibit entry into any cave within a natural area reserve.
» Prohibit actions in a natural area reserve inconsistent with the purpose and intent of the system.
» Authorize DLNR to close all or portions of a natural area reserve for the protection of the natural, geological or cultural resources of a natural area reserve.
» Authorize DLNR to establish visiting hours for individual natural area reserves.
» Make changes to the special use permit process, to clarify what permit applications must contain and how applications will be reviewed.
PUBLIC HEARINGS ON NATURAL RESERVES
Hearings will begin at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at:
DLNR Division of Forestry and Wildlife base-yard conference room, 19 E. Kawili St., Hilo.
Kalanimoku State Office Building, 1151 Punchbowl St., Room 131.
Waikapu Community Center, 22 East Waiko Road, Waikapu.
Chiefess Kamakahelei Middle School cafeteria, 4431 Nuhou St., Lihue.
» A copy of the proposed rules can be seen at the DLNR office, 1151 Punchbowl St., Room 325, Honolulu, HI 96813, 7:45 a.m.-4:30 p.m. weekdays except state holidays, or at www.state.hi.us/dlnr/dofaw/draftrulesindex.html.
» Written testimony on the proposed rule changes will be accepted at that address until July 14.
» Additional information, a free copy of the proposed rule changes or special-needs accommodations for a hearing are available by calling 808-587-0051.
» To learn more about the reserves, see www.dofaw.net/nars.