Vandals Cut Fence at Puʻu Ōlaʻi “Little Beach” in Mākena
Authorities are searching for the vandal(s) who cut through metal gate poles and fencing at the “entrance” to Puʻu Ōlaʻi “Little Beach” at Mākena State Park on Maui. The beach section was closed on Jan. 5 in an effort to stop Sunday evening large gatherings (drum circles) attended by hundreds of people.
State officials with the Department of Land and Natural Resources report that one such gathering last fall was a so-called “super spreader” event for COVID-19. The department reports that the parties continued, nonetheless.
The vandalism was discovered today (Jan. 27, 2021) and was reported to the DLNR Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement for investigation.
DLNR Division of State Parks Administrator Curt Cottrell said, “This behavior is not only destruction of government property, but whomever did this misses several important points. First, the barrier was put up because many people were simply ignoring current COVID-19 mandates at their own risk. Secondly, this kind of senseless vandalism is an assault on everyone who pays taxes in Hawai‘i. These materials and the labor to install these barriers are not cheap and now we’ll have to spend limited staff resources on putting the gate up again.”
DLNR officials say vandals likely used power tools to cut through the steel support posts. “They discarded signs, poles and fencing into the ocean,” the department reports.
Today, State Parks workers were able to retrieve most everything and believe they can weld the fencing and gate back together. “Even so, it’s maddening, frustrating, and disappointing, that individuals who feel entitled to enter a closed area make it hard on everyone,” Cottrell said.
Select state parks have been closed “as a last option” to help stop the spread of coronavirus in big gatherings, according to the department.
Last fall Polihale State Park on Kaua‘i was closed for several months after an estimated 1,000 people gathered there over the Labor Day holiday weekend. It has since re-opened.
Managers are exploring options for re-opening Puʻu Ōlaʻi, but Cottrell says today’s vandalism is certainly going to delay this. “We understand many folks on Maui want ‘Little Beach’ reopened, but in good conscience we cannot do so as long as some people continue to misbehave, break the law, and endanger the health and safety of those around them. These actions reduce our confidence that once we do re-open we’ll see compliant and responsible behavior.”
Anyone who has information on this crime can report it anonymously to DOCARE by calling 643-DLNR or via the free DLNRTip app.