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Recreational sites targeted for overhaul


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POSTED: Friday, January 30, 2009

While the state's recreational renaissance will bring $240 million in improvements to state boat harbors, trails and parks, it also reinvents the way the Department of Land and Natural Resources operates and moves it out of the Dark Ages, Director Laura Thielen said yesterday.

               

     

 

FEES ON HORIZON

        Under a proposal, tourists would have to pay to visit these parks: $1 per person and $5 per vehicle.
       

OAHU

       

» Nuuanu Pali State Wayside

       

» Ka Iwi Scenic Shoreline

       

MAUI

       

» Iao Valley State Monument

       

» Makena State Park

       

KAUAI

       

» Kokee State Park

       

» Haena State Park

       

BIG ISLAND

       

» Kekaha Kai State Park

       

» Akaka Falls State Park

       

The improvements will also give residents hope in the department's capabilities, Thielen said.

Thielen said without the renaissance, more piers will fall into the water, trails and parks will be lost, and residents will lose hope that the state can improve state parks. She said the renaissance will bring new kinds of recreation across the state.

“;We need it now more than ever,”; she said.

Curt Cottrell, manager of the Na Ala Hele trail system, said the department is now grouping projects together regionally rather than by division, becoming more efficient.

He has never seen more “;attention and focus”; on improving the trails in his 17 years with the department.

Thielen said the park improvements will also expand educational and recreational opportunities for visitors and residents.

The renaissance plan includes new recreational sites, such as:

  ;  » Connecting a string of parks on the northwest coast of the Big Island that will offer educational activities, long-distance hikes, camping areas and canoe routes.

» A linear park at the base of Diamond Head Crater's outer slope with walking, biking and jogging trails.

» Two public shooting ranges and an off-highway vehicle riding area.

» Sand Island Ocean Recreation Park with new boat ramps, boat slips, canoe sheds, camping areas and kayak launch.

 

;[Preview] State Proposes Park Fees
;[Preview]
 

State proposes to charge visitors a park fee to pay for multi-million dollar improvements.

Watch ]

 

  The department already has $30 million in projects ready to go out to bid this summer.

To fund the repairs, the department will ask legislators to authorize the issuance of $40 million in general obligation bonds, starting this July. The rest of the improvement money will come from future bonds.

Thielen said the debt service will be paid by revenue from commercial and industrial land leases, increasing boat harbor fees and charging entrance fees for tourists at eight state parks, similar to fees at Diamond Head State Monument.

Park entrance fees for nonresidents will not start until after the state completes the park improvements, Thielen said.

In about three years the state hopes to remove the charge for residents entering Diamond Head.

Alan Carpenter, state parks archaeologist, said the state's new plan could finally accomplish some of the many failed plans lining the hallway at his office.

“;It's revolutionary,”; he said.

Suzanne Case, executive director of the Nature Conservancy in Hawaii, said the plans could improve education and enforcement at parks.

She said that “;protecting our natural resources is key to protecting our economy and our way of life in Hawaii.”;