December 29, 2023, 7:48 AM HST
Officers with the Department of Land and Natural Resources Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement will be on patrol over the New Year’s holiday to enforce the law and protect the environment, including the sacred Ahu o Laka or Kāne‘ohe Bay sandbar on Oʻahu.
The department has responded in the past to illicit Christmas tree burning at the sandbar which had become an unwanted post-holiday tradition.
Department officials say this unlawful practice has subsided over the last few years, in part from a better community understanding of its negative environmental effects, and from the presence of DOCARE officers patrolling the area after the Christmas and New Year’s holidays.
“Public awareness that this activity violates laws and rules and causes harm to the surrounding marine ecosystem has increased, and we’re encouraged by the recent trend to comply with the rules,” said DOCARE Chief Jason Redulla. “We’ve posted officers on shore and on the water in the past, to make checks and deter illegal activity, and will do so again this year.”
Ahu o Laka carries a rich cultural significance for many Native Hawaiians and area residents. It’s also a popular recreational destination for boating, snorkeling, and kayaking. Additionally, it is a state wildlife sanctuary – a natural, historical resource that’s home to a diverse community of fish, corals, and other marine life. Department officials said preserving and protecting this special, shared resource is a cooperative effort that takes many hands.
Officers rely heavily on reporting of natural and cultural resource violations by people who witness them. The public can report incidents at: 643-DLNR (3567) or via the free DLNRTip app.