A community-based management partnership at Hāʻena State Park is finally in place after 20 years of Hāʻena communities’ efforts to fully participate in the protection and management of the area.
On Friday, June 25, the Board of Land and Natural Resources (BLNR) approved a one-year revocable permit (RP) for the nonprofit Hui Maka’āinana o Makana to oversee and manage a Park reservation system for Hāʻena State Park, including collecting both parking and entry fees as well as an integrated shuttle system that will reduce the number of cars that enter the Park each day.
The hui (group) will also manage the cultural landscape of the park.
Hāʻena State Park is the gateway to the adjacent and world-famous Nāpali Coast State Wilderness Park, which benefits from the capacity-controls now in place at Hāʻena.
“This is both evolutionary and revolutionary. In 1999, Hui Maka’āinana o Makana was chartered with a focused place-based mission to care for cultural resources inside the park,” said State Parks Administrator Curt Cottrell. “Volunteers have dedicated thousands of hours to make the landscape one that is culturally and ecologically healthy. The hui and THI (The Hanalei Initiative) were instrumental in working closely with DSP after the 2018 torrential rains that caused significant damage at Hāʻena.”
Hui Maka’āinana o Makana will subcontract THI to manage the reservation and parking system and to operate the shuttle, while the hui will conduct mālama ‘āina activities and resource enhancement in the park. THI is a community-based nonprofit that is dedicated to finding sustainable solutions for pressing issues on the north shore of Kaua‘i.
According to the DLNR Division of State Parks (DSP) board submittal,“…the two groups will work to develop an integrated operational plan that builds on the success of the established online reservation system (currently contracted to a private company)…to develop an integrated operational plan that builds on the success to allow a seamless, visitor-friendly reservation system for the shuttle, as well as the onsite-parking and entry for anyone wishing to visit Hāʻena State Park.”
The rain event and subsequent year-long closure of the park provided the opportunity to implement a number of improvements and management recommendations that were proposed in a park master plan that the tight-knit north shore community had contributed to over the course of two decades.
“It has always been the desire of Hui Maka’āinana o Makana and our community to protect Hā‘ena for generations to come. This is our ancestral home and it is our kuleana to care for this sacred place,” said Presley Wann, President of Hui Maka‘āinana O Makana. “We strive every day for ‘āina momona (a place that is healthy and prosperous) and we recognize that to achieve this we must create a balance between the desires of the numerous visitors who want to experience the natural beauty of this area and the unique recreational opportunities it has to offer, and the health of our natural and cultural resources and the very residents who call this place their home. We appreciate the opportunity to be a partner with State Parks in this journey towards sustainability and ‘āina momona.”
Kirsten Hermstad, Hui Maka’āinana o Makana Executive Director, said the community is excited to see this partnership happening after planning for it for more than 20 years.
“The expanded role of Hui Maka’āinana o Makana in our partnership with DSP for the management of Hāʻena State Park is a huge step forward in the paradigm shift towards adaptive resource management and the development of community-based economic opportunities,” Hermstad said.
The community-based management partnership at Hāʻena State Park is expected to become the exemplar for adaptive resource management at other parks, as appropriate.
“The COVID-19 pandemic, as well as important legislation this year, prompted a significant shift to adaptive resource management,” DLNR and BLNR Chair Suzanne Case. “It moves management of natural and cultural resources in Hawai‘i into a realm where rules can be quickly and efficiently changed to reflect fast-changing economic and resource protection needs and factors, that serve local communities and all of Hawai‘i best.”
Hui Maka’āinana o Makana and THI anticipate the north shore shuttle service, which suspended operations during the pandemic, could be up and running again in July when the hui takes over the operations in the park. The RP provides the hui the ability to fully integrate a shuttle service.
The current RP with Republic Parking expires in July, and Hui Maka’āinana o Makana intends to coordinate a seamless handover to avoid as much interruption as possible.
DSP will receive all entry fees as rent when the shuttle service is operating. However, if Hui Maka’āinana o Makana does not provide a shuttle service, rent will be split 90% to DSP and 10% to the hui of net operating income. The one-year RP is on a month-to-month basis.