Friday, September 9, 2011

Trail To Nowhere: Na Ala Hele Trail Moloaa-Kaakaaniu

A pedestrian trail held as a perpetual public easement makai of Moloaa Bay Ranch runs from Moloaa Beach north to Kaakaaniu. It is administered by the Na Ala Hele program, a part of the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resouces. One is able to walk along the trail from Moloaa to Kaakaaniu, which offers stunning views of Moloaa Bay and occasionally sea turtles below, until you reach an abrupt end at a fence at the boundary of Kaakaaniu, owned by Patricia Hanwright. The easement trail is part of a state trail and access program, but it is not yet on the Na Ala Hele website or correctly identified with official state trail signage. The first sign pictured above at the beginning of this entry, installed by a private party, doesn't even have anything written on it. This is just behind Moloaa Beach as you start on the trail north.
This sign fell down, or was pushed down.

Above: Dead bird. Probably killed by an unleashed dog. Below images show fencing blocking end of trail. Fences erected under authority of Patricia Hanwright, owner of three parcels of land in Kaakaaniu ahupua'a.

Fence post and fencing cuts off Moloaa-Kaakaaniu trail here at Kaakaaniu boundary. Fencing runs mauka uphill and right, parallel to sea. In this photo immediately above, boulders lead down to sea. I am not going to walk there, that is unsafe and will result in injury. Yet, Patricia Hanwright says if people want to access the coast this is how they have to go. This is illegal. State law allows for lateral transit in which you do not endanger your safety. Chapter 115 of the Hawaii Revised Statutes, Section 9 states:

§115-9  Obstructing access to public property; penalty.  [Repeal and reenactment on June 30, 2013.  L 2010, c 160, §7.]  (a)  A person commits the offense of obstructing access to public property if the person, by action or by having installed a physical impediment, intentionally prevents a member of the public from traversing:
     (1)  A public right-of-way;
     (2)  A transit area;
     (3)  A public transit corridor; or
     (4)  A beach transit corridor;
and thereby obstructs access to and along the sea, the shoreline, or any inland public recreational area.
     (b)  Physical impediments that may prevent traversing include but are not limited to the following:
     (1)  Gates;
     (2)  Fences;
     (3)  Walls;
     (4)  Constructed barriers;
     (5)  Rubbish;
     (6)  Security guards;
     (7)  Guard dogs or animals; and
     (8)  A landowner's human-induced, enhanced, or unmaintained vegetation that interferes or encroaches within beach transit corridors.
     (c)  Obstructing access to public property is a misdemeanor.
     (d)  Minimum fines for violation under this section shall be as follows:
     (1)  $1,000 for a second conviction; and
     (2)  $2,000 for any conviction after a second conviction.
     (e)  As used in this section:
     "Landowner" means the record owner of the property or the record owner's agent, including a lessee, tenant, property manager, or trustee.
     "Person" means a natural person or a legal entity.
     "Public recreational area" means public lands or bodies of water opened to the public for recreational use. [L 2004, c 169, §2; am L 2010, c 160, §4]

In Hawaii, people have the right to access the beach and ocean. Hawaiian Kingdom laws, Territorial Laws, and State Laws today (as above) all guarantee this right. Private landowners, from the mainland mostly, especially those holding choice coastal parcels, value their privacy and many have a sense of entitlement that by virtue of their birth, status, wealth, who they know, or geneology, they seek to push upon the community. Who was it that said laws are for the "little people"?

Patricia Hanwright has erected two visible sets of fencing in Kaakaaniu. One is depicted in the photos you have just seen at the Moloaa end of her property. The State of Hawaii Na Ala Hele program claims a trail right through that fencing as it feels that trail is part of an ancient ala loa trail. The second set of fencing done on Patricia Hanwright's property is visible from the Lepeuli public trail by looking southeast. These are the three images above. The bottom image (immediately above) is a close-up of the fencing.

The fencing in these photos is illegal as Patricia Hanwright never obtained a state Conservation District Use Permit (CDUP) to install the fencing. The fencing depicted above at the Moloaa-Kaakaaniu boundary, also needed a Conservation District Use Permit for construction. However, that violation is more serious as it actually cuts off pedestrian access according to Hawaii Revised Statutes (HRS). Patricia Hanwright is well aware of where the state Conservation District Boundary line is on her properties in Kaakaaniu, as a Shoreline Certification was performed by surveyor Dennis Hashimoto and signed by the Chairperson of the state Department of Land and Natural Resources May 7, 1992. This document (above, click to enlarge) shows the Conservation boundary line at 300 feet mauka of the shoreline. My photographic evidence depicts both sets of Kaakaaniu fencing within 300 feet of the shoreline. Patricia Hanwright is clearly in violation.

In 2011 Patricia Hanwright apparently engaged the services of a surveyor again. Survey stakes were observed marking her property line at the Lepeuli end of Kaakaaniu. A vandal subsequently removed many of her stakes, and she contacted the Kauai Police Department and filed a complaint. The police report of that complaint is at the link below. Kauai Naturists opposes the use of illegal behavior to protest the illegal acts of others. We encourage legal means such as letter writing, petitions, hearings, lawsuits etc. to achieve these ends. We certainly do urge all members of the community to speak up for what is right, but not to break the law.

The link above describes the legal procedure for how the State of Hawaii obtains historic trails. This is from the website of the Na Ala Hele Trails Program, a part of the state Department of Land and Natural Resources, Division of Forestry and Wildlife.

The link below is a list of the members of the newly-reactivated Kauai Na Ala Hele Trail Advisory Council.

Contributed by Richard Spacer.

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