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‘Ahihi-Kina‘u set to charge nonresidents $5 a vehicle Oct. 1

The Maui News

‘Ahihi-Kina’u Natural Area Reserve will start charging non-Hawaii residents $5 per vehicle starting Oct. 1, the state Department of Land and Natural Resources announced Wednesday.

Visitors can make payments at two machines in the reserve’s parking lot, which accept credit or debit cards and produce receipts that must be displayed on their dashboard while using the area. Hawaii residents will not be charged but must still display a daily pass that will be generated from the same machines.

Created in 1973, ‘Ahihi-Kina’u was the state’s first natural area reserve and will now be the first to ask visitors to share the costs of preserving the area. From 2018 to 2019, roughly 1,200 people a day visited the open portion of the reserve at Kanahena, with another 1,200 passing through the reserve on the way to Keone’o’io, or La Perouse Bay. It’s the third-most visited outdoor area on Maui after Haleakala National Park and Iao Valley State Monument, according to a news release.

User fees collected from visitors will pay for conservation projects or infrastructure costs, including portable toilet maintenance and trash collection at both Kanahena and La Perouse.

Fees from the Kanahena parking lot will go directly into the Natural Area Reserve Special Fund, which supports natural resource maintenance and protection projects. Potential projects include replanting native dryland forest plants to reduce storm runoff onto coral reefs and keeping out nonnative goats and deer along the mauka border of the reserve.

Scott Fretz, Maui branch manager with the DLNR Division of Forestry and Wildlife, said in the news release that creating user fees “was identified as a high priority” by a citizens advisory group that offered input on a management plan for the reserve. A public hearing on the proposed fees was held in November 2016 on Maui. The proposal was reviewed by the Board of Land and Natural Resources in March 2017 at a public meeting and signed by the governor in September 2017.

The plan also includes limiting the number of cars that can park at ‘Ahihi-Kina’u. The DLNR reminded residents and visitors that they cannot park on the road or shoulder in the reserve for any length of time. Any cars parked on the reserve road, shoulder or outside the marked stalls at the Kanahena parking lot will be ticketed and towed at the owner’s expense.

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