POSTED: 7 FEBRUARY 2008 - 6:30pm HST

Polihale - Back to "normal"?

image above: Tourist trip to Polihale State Park 25 July 2007 before closing (posted on the internet)

[Editor's Note: A call from David Matthews of Kekaka confirmed that the old main access road to Polihale was been open the last few days. The on again off again access to Polihale State Park is more than just an embarrassment to the DLNR]

by Cory Todd on 5 February 2008

I just wanted to drop you a note and let you know that I went and checked out the new Polihale bypass road.

Yesterday I took a drive to see it for myself and to tell you the truth the bypass "road" scared me. It is a dirt trail maybe 10 feet wide, at most, with no place to pull off if and let oncoming traffic pass. On mauka side is a dirt embankment, on the makai side is a 10' bank that ends up in the ditch that is part of the base boundary. It had rained yesterday and I only made it half way down the road till my truck started to slide and fishtail and I decided to stop in fear for my safety.

I have a full sized Toyota Tundra 4x4 with offroad tires and I didn't want to risk putting my truck into the ditch, and worse, flipping upside down in the water. I had to back up about 30 yards till I found a place to make a 5 point turn and get turned around.

I parked my truck and walked the road till it intersected with the main Polihale road. It was the typical foot deep thick sloppy sticky mud expected of Polihale when it rains. While walking back I came across a tourist rental jeep with visitors from Wisconsin!!!!! They were on their way to visit Polihale. They were insistent that the could make it because they had a 4x4 and they knew how to drive it from back home. I pleaded and convinced them not to attempt the bypass road and they turned around.

This is of great concern to me because I am a full time paramedic with the Waimea Ambulance. It is only a matter of time till someone goes into this ditch with strong possibility of injury and even death if their vehicle flips upside-down in the ditch water. If this were to happen, there is no way for my ambulance or KFD rescue to bring our rigs on this road. We would have to hike the half mile to mile in to potentially rescue any injured or trapped driver all without any help of our heavy rescue equipment that is on the KFD truck.

As I said before, it only a matter of time till someone drives into this ditch. While I do appreciate the fact that the State kept access open to Polihale, this access if far more dangerous than the original main Polihale road. I do not want to make a uproar about the dangers, risk and liability the state has put drivers in by using this road, but it needs to be addressed. The main road is much safer. Some rental car, which shouldn't be on that road anyways according to their rental agreement, may get stuck and damaged, but at least they won't go down a 10 foot embankment and flip upside down into 3' feet of ditch water and drown.

Should this info be addressed with Hoosier and Agor? Are they aware of the alternative route that was selected and how dangerous it is? Or will that just close off any potential access we have to Polihale? The state said they closed Polihale out of concern of liability, well they increased their liability ten-fold with this bypass road.

Thank you all for your diligence and effort in keeping Polihale open.



POSTED: 1 FEBRUARY 2008 - 10:30am HST

Polihale gets a reprieve

image above: Unconfirmed alternative route leading to Polihale.

[Editor' Note: Due to efforts by Bruce Pleas, and DLNR Kauai board representative Ron Agor, an alternative gate has been opened to allow Kauai residents to access Polihale State Park. Negotiations are ongoing with the PMRF to solve this probem. As a result the planned demonstration has been cancelled.]

by Bruce Pleas on 31 January 2008

Received a call from Ron Agor, just missed a call from Steve Thompson (will contact him tomorrow), with the news on the gate and access situation. A policy decision is being done as you read this and it should be in effect by tomorrow.

At this point the old gate will remain closed and locked (that is as long as it is not cut), the new gate will be unlocked with access by alternate routes (other than the old gate) allowed without hassle by DLNR, DOCARE or any other State agency. Please close the new gate behind you and let me know if any access hassles are encountered.

Good work everyone because there has been a lot of pressure put on the government over the last 24 hours and to have the government work this fast is pretty impressive.

If this works out with out any hassles make sure you recontact any government officials you spoke to and thank them for the quick response. This will help in any future situations we have to deal with.

Bruce Pleas
phone: 808-337-9509



POSTED: 30 JANUARY 2008 - 12:00pm HST

Polihale Closed to the public!

image above:Polihale cliffs photographed by David Matthews on 8 April 2007


Saturday, 2 February 2008 at 12:00pm

Main access gate to Polihale State Park (where sign to Polihale is)
at Access Road off the Kiko Road Extension of the Kaumualii Highway

Demonstration to demand opening of public access to Polihale State Park and western beaches.

Diana Labedz at or call 808-337-9977

by Juan Wilson on 30 January 2008

Back in 2004, the Navy requested from the State of Hawaii to have perpetual control of the Mana Plain through the PMRF (Pacific Missile Range Facility) with a easement agreement with the DLNR (The Hawaii State Department of Land & Natural Resources). They wanted an agreement that would cost them nothing and last forever. Thanks to the public outcry and efforts of Joanne Yukimura they got a thirty year agreement. Still too much by far.

Several people, including myself, worried that the agreement and the plans for PMRF expansion would threaten access to Polihale State Park and the remainder of the western beaches still available to the public.

Quote from letter I wrote to Senator Inouye on 11/9/03
"...Moreover, we have lost access to the beach front from Kekole Point to Queen’s Pond. That’s 7.5 miles of the longest, most beautiful ribbon of sandy beach front in Hawaii. This Navy land grab will cut off the northernmost beaches as well. Polihale State Park will be history unless you’re wearing ID tags and have clearance. These beaches, with their back to the pali facing unmatched sunsets, are significant places of rest, recreation and spiritual renewal for the people of Kauai. We must have these beaches to live here."

Portion of article Linda Pascatore wrote in Island Breath on 4/27/04
"...An issue not addressed by our legislators is the existing loss of public access to a long stretch of beach from Kekaha to Polihale State Park. This area was traditionally used by fishermen, shell gatherers, and campers. Access was originally promised when the state agreed to lease to the Navy, but has been severely restricted since 9-11. If the Navy is given control over the additional 6,000 acres, many fear loss of access to Polihale State Park, which is a valued recreational area and sacred site to many here on Kauai."

Quote from unpublished letter I wrote to Garden Island News 6/3/03
"...During 'military exercises' they may feel justified closing off the west end of the island. We maybe unable to reach Polihale, Queens Pond or Barking Sands. These places are vital recreational areas – isolated, rustic and spiritually significant to many of us. Will the military eventually control the entire area, and close our state park?"

It is clear that our worst fears are coming to fruition. Through "neglect" the PMRF and the State of Hawaii are pinching off the use of our state park.

Through what appears to be incompetence, the State Parks Department has lost the operation of its pumps to supply drinking water and toilet water at Polihale. The public toilets have been closed.

The care of the access road to the state park has not been maintained by the state, county or military. Due to its poor condition the access road has been "officially" closed since last year. Recently, the access gates have been closed denying even knowledgeable locals their normal work-arounds.

It seems that there is a deliberate negligence going on here. There are supposedly contracts to repair these infra structure failings going back to 2006. Where are the results? Below are the specifics of an emergency procurement to fix the PoliHale access road. Where's the work?


Contract(or PO) Number: C25547
Method of Procurement: Emergency Procurements
Department: Land & Natural Resource
Division: State Parks
Vendor: Taniguchi, Roger Inc.

Description: Grading of Polihale Road - approximately 5 miles of Road (from beginning of road to cement swale) Contractor to crown road, cut water run-offs as needed and roll or compact road.

Notice of Award Date: 04/26/2006
Start Date: (none specified)
End Date: (none specified)
Original Award Amount: $80,439
Final Contract Amount: $0
Contact Person: Wayne Souza
Phone: (808) 274-3446


Few remember, but the Navy promised to maintain the public's access to Polihale State Park when they were negotiating with the DLNR for an easement over 6,000 acres of the Mana Plain. This promise was made by Captain R. J. Connely, who was the commanding officer of the PMRF (Pacific Missile Range Facility) in 2004.

In fact, the Commander of the Navy Region Hawaii bragged;
"The state will continue to own the land and control all access. The Navy does not intend to impose any restrictions that would impede access to Polihale State Park. In fact, the Navy recently graded the dirt road leading to Polihale, improving access for the public."

What has followed has not been a reasonable maintenance of the access road. What the PMRF plans is for increasing use of the area by ever greater dangers to the public (directed energy laser program, amphibious attack simulations etc.)

The PMRF, the GMO companies and the DLNR would be perfectly happy if the state park simply disappeared. They are doing their best to make this so.


Polihale access road remains closed
by Jon Letman on 22 December 2007 in The Garden Island

A drive out to Polihale State Park used to be a test of endurance for motorists and their vehicles. Today, it is simply a test of patience, as the 5-mile-long park access road has been closed since Nov. 28 due to the heavy rains and flooding resulting from a severe Kona storm last month.

According to Deborah Ward, spokeswoman for the Department of Land and Natural Resources, typically at least five consecutive sunny days are required to properly dry the road so it can be used. Unstable weather patterns during December have postponed repair work, and until the weather allows for drying, all access roads will remain closed to avoid further damage, which could prevent emergency vehicles from entering the park.“Once the road has sufficiently dried, state park crews can lay cobble-sized stones as a form of road maintenance, a practice that goes on throughout the year,” Ward said.

A Kaua‘i parks maintenance supervisor was scheduled to inspect the road’s condition on Friday.

Repairs must also be made to the road leading to a broken water pump. The pump has shut down all toilet and shower facilities in the park, suspending the issuance of camping permits at Polihale since mid-September. Ward said the pump has failed before and called the water system a “chronic problem.”
DLNR expects a new pump by early January.

Ward added that as with other state parks, facilities at Polihale are aging and in need of repair, a process that continues statewide as funds are appropriated. Currently there are no funds available for more permanent road repairs leading to Polihale Beach.

With the longest stretch of continuous sandy beach in Hawai‘i, Polihale is a popular, but remote, destination for local residents and island visitors.
DLNR annual visitor count statistics put Polihale State Park use at 169,700 in 2007 (year-to-date). Last year, DLNR issued 736 camping permits to 3,910 campers.

According to Sue Kanoho, executive director of the Kaua‘i Visitors Bureau, complaints have gone up about the state of the park.

“We have received increased complaints from both residents and visitors on the lack of maintenance to the park, which I have shared with our governor’s liaison,” Kanoho said via e-mail. “It continues to be our hope that the state will put adequate resources into maintaining this park so it can remain open and viable to those that enjoy the area so much.”

Polihale State Park was also closed during the tsunami warning that followed the October 2006 Big Island earthquake.

Nearby at the Pacific Missile Range Facility, spokesman Tom Clements said the base has not seen a noticeable increase in use of recreational beach areas that can be attributed directly to the Polihale road closure.

Unlike Polihale, which only requires a sturdy vehicle and sound constitution for access, PMRF’s recreational beach areas are accessible only to permit holders.
Major’s Bay and Housings, two popular surf points at PMRF, drew less than 20 cars during the period of lower surf on west Kaua‘i last week. By contrast, the base can see as many as 60 to 90 cars a day between January and March during periods of high surf.

PMRF has a recreation pass program with close to 1,000 people signed up for the annual pass, which allows public access to designated areas on base.
Formerly open only to Kaua‘i residents, the program was amended in 2006 to include all U.S. citizens. To obtain the annual pass takes an average of three weeks and costs $20 for a national background security check.

see also:
Island Breath: PMRF Part 6
Island Breath: PMRF Part 5 6/10/04
Island Breath: PMRF Part 4
Island Breath: PMRF Part 3
Island Breath: PMRF Part 2
Island Breath: PMRF Part 1