West Hawaii Today – State warns illegal riders on Mauna Kea

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State warns illegal riders on Mauna Kea

By Local And Wire Sources
Tuesday, December 16, 2008 9:53 AM HST

Recreational off-road riders who fail to comply with rules for riding on the Mauna Kea summit roads may have their riding privileges revoked, warned the state Division of Forestry and Wildlife and the Na Ala Hele Trails and Access Program.

Under DOFAW hunting regulations, the area has long been open to hunters using four wheel drive, all-terrain vehicles and dirt bikes, but all riders must stay on established forest roads.

The Department of Land and Natural Resources also opened up the R-1 or R-10 roads in April 2007 for use by recreational riders (nonhunters). All vehicle operators are prohibited from cross country traveling and hill climbing.

All off-highway vehicle operators and riders are required to follow the rules that are listed in the DOFAW Permit and Recreational Guide.

“Mauna Kea is an especially sensitive area and we have had problems with illegal riding off the R-1 and R-10 roads, including climbing of Kanakaleonui cinder hill, 12 miles in from Hale Pohaku,” said Laura Thielen, DLNR chairwoman. “Our Forestry and Wildlife staff has many responsibilities but their major responsibility is to protect the resources. If the illegal activity, which is damaging natural resources, doesn’t stop, they will have no choice but to close the R-1 and R-10 to recreational riding.”

Warning signs posted by DOFAW staff to “Keep Off” Puu Kanakaleonui do not seem to be working and the illegal riding has moved mauka of R-1, leaving tracks that will scar the area for years.

“Riders should respect this area and follow the rules so they can continue to enjoy this unique and beautiful area,” said Irv Kawashima, Na Ala Hele Trails and Access Program Hawaii Island specialist. “Riders need to be respectful of the special and unique wilderness of Mauna Kea, and its importance to the Hawaiian culture. While the majority of recreational vehicle drivers do obey the rules, a few individuals who choose to violate the rules and mess it up for the rest of the riding public.”

DLNR asks anyone who sees someone violating the rules to get all the information (number of vehicles, make, type, color, names of individuals if possible) and call the Division of Conservation and Resource Enforcement at 643-DLNR (3567).

It is a violation of state forest reserve rules to ride off authorized trails. Violators are subject to a petty misdemeanor penalty of up to $500 fine and/or 30 days in jail. In addition, administrative fines may be applied.

Permits, waivers and recreational guides are available at the Division of Forestry and Wildlife offices at 66-1220A Lalamilo Road in Waimea or at 19 E. Kawili St. in Hilo. For information, call 974-4221 or 887-6063.

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