Community organizations say Hā’ena State Park’s reservation system is working well
It’s a partnership that’s been in the works for 20 years, and it marks the next phase of the State Parks Division’s master plan for Hā’ena, Kaua’i. This summer, the community organization Hui Maka’ainana o Makana took the reins of the parking lot and the entrance reservation system at Ha’ena State Park.
While it was once common for the park to see 2,000 visitors per day, the new reservation system only allows 900 people.
The Conversation met Kirsten Hermstad, Executive Director from the Hui, and Joel Guy from the Hui’s partner organization, The Hanalei Initiative, to see how the system is evolving.
“In fact, it’s going very well. We had a small ramp-up period before COVID started, ”Hermstad said. “Overall it has been an incredible success and everyone has a better experience. The place is neat, the people are looked after and the visitor has a better experience. They are not fighting over parking, they are ‘ can enter the park in a relaxed way and enjoy it with fewer people. “
The Hanalei Initiative operates the Kaua’i North Shore Shuttle System, which provides transportation to the park.
“No one should show up to seek entry into the park. Everything is based on the reservation. Unfortunately for some it sells out quite quickly, especially the vehicle options. The shuttles have a bit more capacity. people want to get out, they can probably get a shuttle in a few days, but the parking lot is full right away, ”Guy said.
The park contains the only land access to the Nā Pali Coast State Park and its famous Kalalau Trail.
Alan Carpenter of the State Parks Division, which reports to the Department of Lands and Natural Resources, said they were looking for opportunities to implement the “Hāʻena” model across the state. Their first target is Wai’ānapanapa State Park in Hana, Maui.
Guy praised state park trustees, Carpenter and Curt Cottrell, for their foresight and management, and also highlighted the benefits of a community-led management system.
“When you have a community running the system, then when it affects the rest of the place, we hear about it. Our phones are ringing off the hook by people who are pissed off about the impacts. Can adapt and try. to work on creating solutions for these areas. “