Last weekend an estimated 100 people gathered at the J7 ranch to get in streams and waterfalls above the ranch.
The waterways above the J7 (Wailuku River, Hookelekele Stream, Lauiole Falls, Pukamaui Falls and Kauwehu Falls) are collectively known as “Narnia”, and are part of the Hilo Restricted Watershed Section of the Hilo Forest Reserve.
Access is restricted and requires a permit for entry (HAR 13-105-4). The DLNR Division of Forestry & Wildlife (DOFAW) is not issuing any permits for access to that area at this time. Hunters are allowed to access Hilo Restricted Watershed with a valid hunting license for the purpose of hunting on weekends and holidays only. A major access point is through the J7 ranch, (currently unencumbered land TMK: (3) 2-5-009:004) and this area is now also closed to the public.
All other uses are prohibited at this time and the DLNR Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement (DOCARE) and Hawai‘i County Police will be enforcing all State laws and rules.
Additional Hawai‘i Island Area Closes After Today to Discourage Large Gatherings
The Puna Trail in the Puna District on Hawai‘i island will be closed at midnight today. The 2.5-mile-long trail leads to Ha‘ena Beach, known locally as Shipman’s and has seen large group gatherings dating back to original COVID-19 related orders and closures back in April.
This closure, like yesterday’s announcement that all State Parks on Hawai‘i island are also closing after today, is consistent with Hawai‘i County’s closure of all county beach parks. All State and County closures are in effect at least through Sept. 18, 2020.
Surveys conducted in April by staff from the State’s Na Ala Hele Trails and Access Program, showed an eight-fold increase of usage of the Puna Trail, compared to data from 2019. At that time an average of 16 people a day used the trail, while the COVID-19 survey period showed an average of 140 users each day.
The DLNR Division of State Parks supports all county and state rules in an effort to reduce the chances of coronavirus infection on Hawai‘i island, which recently, like O‘ahu, has experienced a surge in cases. Closed signs were put up at the trailhead this afternoon and the WH Shipman Estate which co-manages the trailhead parking lot with the State supports closures, as enforcement is difficult at the remote Ha‘ena beach. County and State law enforcement officers will be patrolling all closed areas this weekend to ensure compliance with all emergency rules.