Like a lot of places on Kauai, Ke'e and surrounding areas are being loved to death.
It's extremely popular with tourists because it's the “end of the road,” the trailhead for the 11-mile hike into Kalalau and a great place to snorkel and watch the sunset. As a result, Haena State Park is the third-most visited park in the state system, with more than 740,000 visitors annually. It's also home to one of the state’s richest archaeological complexes, with a hula platform, heiau, cemetery, house sites and extensive taro lo'i.
Now, after years of community meetings, discussions and research, the Division of State Parks has developed a master plan and draft EIS intended to tame the crowds and improve conditions at the 65.7-acre park. It was created in cooperation and consultation with a 32-member community advisory committee comprising a wide range of interests.
Highlights include limiting park visitors to 900 per day — an estimated 2,000 visit currently — creating an educational and cultural center at the entry and building an elevated boardwalk with interpretive materials that will provide access to Ke'e Beach. Non-residents will be charged an access fee.
One aspect of the plan could include requiring visitors to attend an orientation session, as is done at Hanauma Bay, to educate them about safety, cultural significance and environmental protection with the idea of reducing their impact on the area.
The master plan and DEIS can be downloaded here (it's a big file, so it takes time) and public comments are being accepted through Sept. 8, with another public meeting set for Sunday at Tahiti Nui in Hanalei.
It's been a long, involved process that has relied upon the manao of Ha'ena families, cultural cultural practitioners and Hui Maka‘ainana o Makana (the group that has long managed the loi there), along with representatives from the Hanalei Watershed Hui, Hanalei Hawaiian Civic Club, Hanalei-Ha'ena Community Association, Hanalei Roads Committee, Limahuli Garden Preserve, Kauai Visitors Bureau, Kauai Northshore Business Council, Princeville Community Association, Kayak Kauai, Office of Hawaiian Affairs, Kauai County Planning Department and state Highways Division.
It's built on the concepts of community-based management (CBM), and generally has strong support from the local people who live in and use that area.
Except for failed mayoral candidate, anti-GMO activist, chem trail believer, Mauna Kea-clingon and Kilauea resident Dustin Barca, who posted this on Instagram:
Another Mauna Kea situation? What, exactly, does Ke'e have to do with Mauna Kea? Must everything that happens in Hawaii now be compared to Mauna Kea?
As one local noted in an email to me:
hello it's a state park...they are not trying to take it over they already own it!!
Ke'e is already a zoo, with little oversight and guidance, and virtually no interpretation to inform visitors (and new residents) about its cultural and environmental significance. How is it to be sorted out, without some limits, new rules and revenues generated by the very same people who are now converging on it for free?
As for “boardwalks for tourist [sic] thru 'our sacred lo'i'” — have you ever so much as pulled a weed out there, Dustin? — the plan is supported by Hui Maka‘ainana o Makana, which manages those lo'i. Any tours would be led by cultural practitioners and stewardship groups.
Though Dustin doesn't know what he's talking about, yet again, and never participated in the planning process, he's now putting out the call to reject and disrupt.
Ironically, it's framed it as "give and get ideas on how we can #protectMakana” — the iconic peak that isn't in any need of protection. It's the coastal area that needs help. But that bit of reality doesn't work so well when you're trying to force a connection to Mauna Kea that doesn't exist.
It's enough to make you wanna scream #icantfuckinghandlealready when these johnny-come-latelys try to upend a process that they could have joined way back, but didn't.