(HONOLULU) – Andy Bohlander, a Shoreline Specialist with the University of Hawaii Sea Grant College Program, working with the DLNR Office of Conservation and Coastal Lands (OCCL), is a man with a lot of miles on his shoes. He is part of the team at OCCL charged with making sure that Hawaii’s public beaches remain accessible to the public and free of encroachments that may inhibit access, like structures and vegetation.
Last week, 100 shoreline property owners in East Oahu, from Maunalua Bay to Kaalawai Beach received letters asking for their cooperation in removing vegetation encroaching within the public “beach transit corridor.” OCCL Administrator Sam Lemmo explained, “Under Chapter 115, Hawaii
Revised Statutes, the beach transit corridor is defined as the area seaward of the shoreline.
Private property owners are required to ensure that beach transit corridors abutting their private lands are kept free from the landowner’s human-induced, enhanced, or unmaintained vegetation that interferes or encroaches in the beach transit corridors.
“In East Oahu, we’ve observed a progressive trend,” Bohlander said, “of vegetation, particularly Naupaka and Beach Heliotropes, growing extensively from private property onto the public beach. Sometimes, especially during high tides and periods of high surf, this vegetation completely prohibits people from accessing the beach.
If landowners don’t correct vegetation incursions within 21 days after receiving the notice of non-compliance, they could be fined $1000 for a first offense and $2000 for each subsequent offense. “It is important for landowners to continually maintain their vegetation in such a manner that it does not restrict lateral beach access,” Lemmo said. Landowners can demonstrate compliance with Chapter 115 HRS by submitting before and after photographs to OCCL providing evidence that their vegetation has been removed or maintained.
The DLNR is tasked with protecting and conserving over 750 miles of shoreline, including all of Hawaii’s beaches. Bohlander said, “Once property owners become aware of the issue most of them voluntarily cut their vegetation back and continue to maintain it. We’re really trying to
cultivate a stewardship ethic along the shoreline.”
HD Video of OCCL Shoreline Vegetation Investigation:
https://vimeo.com/137159921 (password: shoreline)
High Resolution Photos of OCCL Shoreline Vegetation Investigation:
Watch for more info:
Senior Communications Manager
Office of the Chair
Hawaii Department of Land & Natural Resources
1151 Punchbowl Street, Room 130
Honolulu, Hawaii 96813