POSTED: 15 SEPTEMBER 2006 - 1:30pm HST

Destruction of Kokee

view of Kalalau Valley from Kokee lookout by Aaron Lindberg

by David H. Stewart on 15 September 2006

The National Geographic Society has identified Koke’e as one of the most scenic and biologically fragile places on earth with species of plants and animals found nowhere else. The State of Hawaii has a plan to turn this special place into a theme park. How did this happen? Among the goals of the plan is to assess and identify opportunities to GENERATE REVENUE FOR THE STATE. Give this goal to an engineering firm and the plan predictably focuses on vehicles and commercially based services.

The objective for Koke`e to generate revenue arises from a political perspective that the cost of operating parks and special places should be borne by the users rather than tax revenues. To generate the required revenue it is necessary to increase use of the park through more vehicles and services. This approach for Koke`e is inappropriate. Increased usage of one of the most sensitive places on earth will only destroy it, rather than support it.

Engineers, by profession, are not trained to preserve and restore natural and cultural resources, but they do know how to GENERATE REVENUE FOR THE STATE: build hotels, put concession stands everywhere, and pave historically and ecologically significant places.

We only need to look at the current controversy over the county bike path on the East Side to see that engineering plans are not fully understood by the public until construction begins, and then we are horrified by the physical reality of the plan.
The engineering firm involved in Koke`e plan, by the way, was investigated 3 years ago for allegedly laundering hundreds of thousands of dollars for political campaigns and receiving millions of dollars of non-bid contracts with Hawaii’s governmental agencies. This may suggest that the firm was awarded contracts based upon shared political perspectives rather than being the best for the job.

The inappropriateness of the plan is more than the issue with the cabins, It affects all who use and appreciate Koke`e. If the choice is between the plan and current state of affairs in the park, I, and a majority of other users, would rather stick to the way things are. At least Koke`e will continue to be Koke`e.

The plan needed is one that describes how to protect Koke`e from the very insults being proposed. If the state really wants an appropriate plan for Koke`e, it needs to start over with different goals and different consultants.

The authority to keep the proposed plan from becoming reality rests with Governor Lingle. The Department of Land and Natural Resources has shown its lack of sensitivity to what Koke`e is with its work statement and contractor selection. It is a waste of time to direct concerns to them. Their minds are made up.

Governor Lingle can shelve the plan. Write, fax, and email her about your concerns. Since the political season is in full swing the Governor has been on Kaua`i more than usual. When you see her, tell her how concerned you are about the Koke`e plan.

Many mahalos to the Kaua`i county council for their resolution against the plan I’m positive that their position reflects those of all Kauaians and people around the world who are concerned over the plan to destroy Koke`e.
Also contact Kauai’s members of Congress and the state legislature. Tell them that you expect a more aggressive public stand against the plan from them. After all, two of them just received high marks from the environmental community.
How will the people and the State of Hawaii be able to face the rest of world if we allow Koke`e to be destroyed?

Perhaps it is time to reconsider having the Federal Government be responsible for Koke`e.

contact info:
David Stewart

324 Aina Manu Place
Kapaa, Kauai 96746
phone (808) 822-1152



Plan for Gated Resort Communty at Kokee

7 August 2006 - 8:30am HST

Ron Agor, Kauai BLNR representative, making amendment to motion on Kokee Master Plan 1/14/2005

The following is a letter of testimony sent to the DLNR Division of State Parks on the Kokee Master Plan. Today is the last day to submit testimony. You can contact the staff through

Lauren Tanaka, Division of State Parks
1151 Punchbowl St., Room 310
Honolulu, Hawaii 96813
phone: (808) 587-0293
email testimonty to:


To the Hawaii Board of Land and Natural Resources;

There was a tumultuous public meeting held 13 January 2005, at the Lihue Civic Center, to discuss the Kokee Draft Master Plan. The Division of State Parks was proposing the BLNR adopt a plan. It had hired a consultant to redesign the park for a new agenda that included charging money for use of the park. The Parks Division request was a thinly veiled cover for a plan that the BLNR Chairman, Peter Young, was persuing. Young was the newly appointed "Chairman" and was following the direction Governor Linda Lingle had set.

The people of Kauai spoke with one voice at the meeting;"Leave Kokee Alone!". After a long night of reviewing the situation some compromise proposals were developed. I spent the night modifying details of the Plan for consideration.

Kauai BLNR representative Ron Agor had thoughts of his own. He and I met briefly before the meeting on the 14th. I gave him a copy of the drawings I had done overnight. Later, Mr Agor made an amendment to the motion on the Master Plan that included two diagrams I had given him.

The transcript of the Agor Amendment is as follows.

"Mr. Chair, I would like to see this process move on. I myself, as I stated earlier and I am sure the rest of the board members, need a lot more information to be able to render a decision on the final master plan. And by moving on approving this draft master plan, it gives us the mechanism to move forward with the environmental impact study which is very important. It gives the time to allow the public to present the testimony here to the consultants and to the staff, so that the staff can reevaluate into consideration all of the testimony that has been given in the last two days. So with that, Mr. Chairman, I would like to move to approve the draft master plan with directives, recommendations or amendments to the plan. I will start with

Page 6-4 on the feature summary, highlights include: to add the elements of testimony of the Green Hart Conservation Company. They've got some very good ideas to preserve the culture and the environment.
Page 6-16: The statement of mission should include the preservation of Native Hawaiian gathering and cultural access rights.

Page 7-10: Entry Gate – I personally recommend not having a physical gate and I also recommend we take into consideration Juan Wilson's proposal and testimony to be taken very seriously and see how that can be worked out

(the following image is a copy of the amended drawing by Juan Wilson provided to Ron Agor 1/14/06. Note there is not gate or guardhouse in the road.)

Page 7-19: Where we talk about different public facilities. I don't know if this is the right place to state this but I would like to place it anyway. I would like the staff and consultants to work with nonprofit organizations that rent cabins and provide a substantial amount of public service and consider them separately from individual cabin leases.

Page 7-20: I would like to explore the possibility of the construction of a lodge with short term rentals.

(the following image is a copy of the amended drawing by Juan Wilson provided to Ron Agor 1/14/06. Note there is 32 bed lodge and parking for less than 50 cars with no vehicular access across the meadow. In addition, non-resident private vehicles are not allowed past the meadow entry to the Lodge and Museum)


Page 7-39: I would like to consider in terms of entry fees any person holding a local drivers license would be exempt from paying any fees and that staff and the consultant look at alternate ways of collecting entry fees

Page 7-40: I don't have a handle or enough information to render a decision on the way to go about the cabin leases. I would direct the staff and consultants to really take to heart the testimony by everybody and really evaluate it and come up with a workable solution for everybody.

And with that, I move again to recommend the motion."

The people of Kauai vehemently wanted no gate and no fee for Kokee. About the only thing that survived Ron Agor's adopted motion is a weak support for local residents not paying a full fee at the entry gate. That is not acceptable. Instead of a 30 bed lodge, the state is bent on building a hotel

The destruction of the Kokee community in a bidding war is not in the interest of the island or its people. If the present Kokee plan of the state is executed it will be in violation of the BLNR approved motion to adopt the plan, and a stab in the back to Kauai residents who fought so hard to establish reasonable compromise.

Over the protest of the majority of Kauai residents, the BLNR used heavy handed techniques to get its way on the 6000 acre PMRF agland landgrab for the GMO corporations and defense contractors. Now the BLNR has a scheme to make Kokee a profitable operation by converting our state park into a gated resort community.

It is not lost on me that the state is being run by Republican hacks appointed by the governor and that politics of the Republicans nationwide has been to plunder the public trust for profit.

Whether they are merely "Lingle Lapdogs" or conniving politicos matters little, the BLNR has lost the trust of the people of Kauai. They should drop this plan and listen to the people.

Juan Wilson
PO Box 949
Hanapepe HI 96716
(808) 335-0733

see also:
Island Breath: Kokee Plan 8
Island Breath: Kokee Plan 7
Island Breath: Kokee Plan 6
Island Breath: Kokee Plan 5

Island Breath: Kokee Plan 4

Island Breath: Kokee Plan 3
Island Breath: Kokee Plan 2
Island Breath: Kokee Plan 1