The Maui News - The 'Ahihi-Kina'u Natural Area Reserve/Keoneoio Advisory Group is urging the state to extend the closure of the 'Ahihi-Kina'u Natural Area Reserve in South Maui for only one more year, instead of the desired two years. The state continues to work on a draft management plan for the reserve, but the advisory group maintains that the closure has persisted for too long, and that with too few state agents guarding the area, and no public presence, poachers are increasingly trespassing and illegally harvesting fish.
On Aug. 1, 2008, a portion of the reserve was closed to the public to allow for studies and for the state to work on a draft management plan. The closure came after years of escalating conflicts over human use. Large numbers of visitors had been hiking across the lava flows in 'Ahihi-Kina'u in search of publicized snorkel spots.
The state has kept open the northern portion of the reserve at Waiala Cove and Kanahena Cove, also known as "Dumps."
The advisory group's recommendation will be under consideration at a Natural Area Reserves System Commission meeting June 4 on O'ahu, said William Evanson, Maui District NARS program manager. From there, the recommendation needs to be approved by the state Board of Land and Natural Resources.
The reserve was established in 1972 and contains 1,238 acres on land and 807 acres in water.