Two more years of restrictions approved for ‘Ahihi-Kina‘u Natural Area Reserve on Maui

July 7, 2010, 2:45 PM HST · Updated July 8, 7:26 AM
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The ‘Ahihi-Kinau’u Natural Area Reserve in South Maui will remain under restricted access for two more years under a plan approved by the state Board of land and Natural Resources. 

Image courtesy DLNR. Click to enlarge.

“The most popular and well-used portions of the reserve will remain open for use during visitor hours as they have for the last two years, but other more remote and sensitive areas will remain closed to the general public,” said Laura H. Thielen, Department of Land and Natural Resources chairperson.

Effective August 1, 2010 and continuing for two years, restricted access will be in place at portions of the ‘Ahihi-Kina‘u Natural Area Reserve.  The continued restrictions were approved at a June 10, 2010 meeting of the Board of Land and Natural Resources.

“The unique natural and cultural resources in ‘Ahihi-Kina‘u Natural Area Reserve are one of Hawaii’s great treasures,” said Thielen.

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“This is needed to allow time for completion of a long-term management plan that will provide alternatives on how to preserve resources and provide for public access and use at the same time without damaging natural resources and diminishing the value of the reserve,” Thielen said.

Over the last two years, staff has been working to survey and document the status of resources and a multi-stakeholder/inter-organizational management plan working group is forming a draft management plan that will be available for public review and comment in the fall.

The  access restrictions were first initiated in 2008 at the request of the ‘Ahihi-Kina‘u NAR/Keone‘o‘io Advisory Group and the Natural Area Reserve System Commission and are part of a larger management planning effort intended to address concerns over increased resource degradation in the State’s first natural area reserve.

The site at ‘Ahihi-Kina‘u was set aside as a reserve to protect its unique natural resources from harm or disturbance. By law, it is illegal to remove, injure, or kill any living thing as well as damage, disturb, or remove any geologic or cultural site.

Previous to the 2008 restrictions, studies had shown that growing numbers of visitors to the area had severely impacted both the natural and cultural resources. Since that time, surveys have shown some of the resources in the restricted areas have seen an improvement while previously unknown evidence of resources degradation was revealed.

The Department asks that the public continue to respect the area restrictions and allow the fragile resources in ‘Ahihi-Kina‘u to rest and rejuvenate. Persons found in the restricted areas or in the reserve after visiting hours may be cited or arrested. Those found guilty of these violations shall face  misdemeanor charges and may be fined up to $1,000 and/or imprisoned for up to a year.  

What’s closed:  The area restrictions for ‘Ahihi-Kina‘u Natural Area Reserve which have been in effect since August 1st, 2008 will continue, including closure of portions of the reserve at Kalua o Lapa, Kalaeloa (aka “the Aquarium”), and Mokuha (aka “the Fishbowl”)  

What’s open:  Access to the northern and most often visited portions of the reserve will continue to be allowed during visiting hours of 5:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.  Areas where access is not restricted are near the beginning of the reserve and are known as Waiala or Kanahena Cove and the coastal area along ‘Ahihi Bay near the “Dumps” surf break.

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