Monday, August 3, 2015

Clearing the Air: FAQ about the KIRC

Who is responsible for the management of the Kaho‘olawe Island Reserve?
The Kaho‘olawe Island Reserve Commission (KIRC) was established in 1993 by the Hawai‘i State Legislature to manage the Reserve. Composed of seven commission members, the KIRC relies on an exemplary staff with expertise in Native Hawaiian culture, ocean management, environmental restoration, planning, policy development, education and ordnance safety to fulfill this responsibility. 

KIRC staff

What is being done to restore the Reserve?
The KIRC has active grant projects on land and sea, including re-vegetation, erosion control, data collection & analysis, monitoring, removal of invasive species, irrigation development and more. We continually appeal to the State for funding to sustain and develop these projects, and have just begun to see success at the Legislature.

Ocean staff & volunteers conduct native fish surveys
How can I access Kaho‘olawe?
The KIRC leads limited volunteer work accesses to Kaho‘olawe in order to help fulfill its mission. Because access to the Reserve (the island and the 2 miles of ocean surrounding it) is largely restricted due to both the continued danger of unexploded ordnance (UXO) and to the financial demands associated with transportation, lodging, staff and safety, it is permitted only with authorization of the KIRC for specific restoration, education, and cultural purposes. A limited number of volunteer groups are escorted to island each year in order to collaborate on cultural and restoration projects with the KIRC and/ or accesses led by the Protect Kaho‘olawe ‘Ohana (PKO). You can add your name (or your entire group) to the KIRC's wait list here

Volunteers learn about key preservation & restoration techniques on Kaho'olawe

Is Kaho‘olawe safe?
Only escorted access that is approved and authorized by the KIRC is safe. Unexploded ordnance (UXO) hazards remain throughout the Kaho‘olawe Island Reserve, even in the Navy-cleared areas, as well as in the uncleared areas and surrounding waters. Due to this and other hazards, including rough terrain and harsh environmental elements, no unauthorized persons are allowed into the Reserve and protective measures have been adopted to maximize safety for those persons with permission to access the Reserve. An Access and Risk Management Plan was developed specifically for this purpose.

UXO (unexploded ordnance) | Photo: 2015

How does the KIRC care for Kaho‘olawe’s cultural resources?
The KIRC works closely with the State Historic Preservation Division to ensure cultural resources are protected in accordance with Federal and State laws. Cultural protocols are carefully followed and cultural practitioners routinely participate in planning and conducting cultural activities. Restoration work is continuously carried out in archaeological and cultural sites throughout the island.

Cultural integration is a focus within all restoration efforts

Is fishing or boating allowed in the Reserve?
Trolling is permitted on two scheduled weekends each month in waters deeper than 30 fathoms (180 feet). No other fishing, ocean recreation or activities are allowed within the Reserve. Bottom fishing or use of anchors is prohibited due to the hazard of unexploded ordnance and risk of damage to coral and other areas of the marine ecosystem. Click to download a Trolling Right of Entry Registration Packet.

Catch reports are one tool that helps us to protect the Reserve for future generations

Are there special rules that apply?
Yes. Hawai‘i administrative rules Chapter 13-261 are specifically applicable to the Kaho‘olawe Island Reserve. The Reserve is divided into two zones: A and B. Zone A includes all the submerged lands and waters between Kaho‘olawe’s shoreline and the waters under 30 fathoms. Unauthorized entry into Zone A is prohibited at all times. Zone B includes all waters and submerged lands between a depth of 180 feet and two nautical miles from the shoreline of the island. Unauthorized entry into Zone B is prohibited at all times, except for trolling on the days stipulated at Trollers must remain underway at all times while in Zone B. 

Who enforces the rules?
The rules governing use of the submerged lands and waters within two nautical miles of the shoreline of Kaho‘olawe are enforced by the State of Hawai‘i, Department of Land and Natural Resources, Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement (DOCARE), the KIRC and the U.S. Coast Guard. Any person violating these rules is guilty of a petty misdemeanor and shall be fined up to $1,000 or imprisoned up to 30 days. The KIRC may also assess administrative fines of up to $10,000 per offense. 

What is planned for Kaho‘olawe?
Current initiatives include:
  • Assessing and stabilizing cultural sites, and providing for appropriate access and cultural practices.
  • Systematically restoring the native environment.
  • Developing a significant volunteer base for the purposes of cultural and natural resource restoration.
  • Installing and maintaining appropriate and sustainable infrastructure, including on-island improvements.
  • Improving and establishing new energy, communications and water resources, as well as a Kihei information center.
  • Developing an enforcement network spanning the community and government to protect Kaho‘olawe and its waters from illegal, inappropriate and unsafe uses.
  • Maintaining a significant on-island presence for the purposes of managing and protecting the Reserve.
  • Creating and distributing educational programs and materials to further the public’s understanding of the cultural, historical and spiritual significance of Kaho‘olawe.

Can someone from the KIRC come to my school or organization to talk about Kaho‘olawe?
Yes, the KIRC provides speakers and materials to educate students and community groups about Kaho‘olawe. Please call the KIRC office at (808) 243-5020 for more information. 

How can I help Kaho‘olawe?
Simply by sharing our resources, volunteering or donating, you can make a huge impact to our efforts on Kaho‘olawe.

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