Kalaupapa plan comment period has been extended

The Maui News

The comment period for the Kalaupapa National Historical Park General Management Plan and Environmental Assessment has been extended to Feb. 1.

Rhonda Loh, acting superintendent of the park, said the extension was in response to public requests. The original deadline was Dec. 15.

For more information, go to parkplanning.nps.gov/kalagmp. The website may not be working during the federal government shutdown.

The plan and environmental assessment provide “broad guidance for the management of the park over the next 15 years and beyond,” park officials said in a November announcement. “The remaining resident-patients lifestyle and rules would not change in the short term.”

In the long term, the plan outlines several actions, including:

“Malama i ka aina,” or care or the land and waters, in a way that “shows respect for the peninsula’s people, stories and way of life and is done in collaboration with the park’s many partners.”

• Continue the transfer of state Department of Health responsibilities to the National Park Service.

• Overall management of visitor access, activities and resources to be assumed by the park service in consultation with state agencies.

• Allow for changes to visitor regulations, including allowing children to visit Kalaupapa with adult supervision and removing the 100 person per day cap while continuing to limit the number of visitors through new mechanisms.

In 2015, the park service released a draft management plan and environmental impact statement for Kalaupapa. And, after consideration of comments and changes to the plan, the park service determined that a full environmental impact statement is no longer needed. Now, officials have a revised plan and environmental assessment.

Kalaupapa was designated as a unit of the National Park System on Dec. 22, 1990. The park honors the moolelo, or story, of the history of the isolated Hansen’s disease community on the Molokai peninsula by preserving and interpreting its site and values.

The historical park also tells the story of the Hawaiian culture and traditions that go back at least 900 years at Kalaupapa.

The park’s boundaries encompass 8,725 acres, although only a small part of the park is owned by the National Park Service. The remainder is owned by the state of Hawaii and a private landowner.