In a three day-operation, officers with the state Department of Land and Natural Resources arrested 11 people who were camping deep within the Kalalau Valley as part of an ongoing effort to keep trespassers out of Kauai’s Napali Coast State Wilderness Park.

DLNR officers and state sheriffs also dug up several marijuana plants and confiscated a crossbow. Since 2015, more than 200 people have been arrested in the remote park on Kauai’s leeward coast.

Officers searched 12 camps, said DLNR spokesman Dan Dennison said. In at least two of the camps, marijuana plants were found, he said.

Officers made 11 arrests during the three-day operation.

Courtesy of DLNR

“We still have work to do,” said Robert Farrell, enforcement chief for the DLNR Division of Conservation and Resources, in a press release. “There are a lot of places for people to run and hide, and though clearly some of the camps had significant populations, once they know we’re coming in, they hide.”

Farrell, wearing a boonie hat, a brown DLNR shirt and tactical belt, accompanied a 12-man squad from DLNR and the state Department of Public Safety Sheriff Division through the Kalau Valley on Wednesday.

The 2-mile long, half-mile wide valley has 2,000-foot cliffs on three sides with its mouth opening toward the sea. Just south of the valley stand the towering cathedrals of the Napali Coast cliffs.

“The Napali coast is very, very remote. It’s logistically challenging to get officers to the area and it’s difficult to have them stay for long-periods of time for sustained enforcement. Beyond satellite phones, there’s no communications,” Farrell said in the press release.

The Kalalau Valley awaits hikers who traverse the 11-mile trail.

Courtesy of DLNR

Photos from the DLNR depict one camp that appeared to have been dug into the soil for a long time. Dennison estimated that most of camps had been in the valley for several months, or even years.

Officers identified one of the camps from a social media video posted by its squatters. The giveaway: a stone pizza oven.

“Kalalau squatters have no regard for the law or for protection of natural and cultural resources,” Farrell said. “People with permits should be able to enjoy one of the most unique and beautiful landscapes on the planet without the fear of being harassed or having their experience diminished or threatened by those who simply do what they want, where they want, and how they want.”

Officers found 12 camps. One had a pizza oven, generators, a bed and marijuana plants.

Courtesy of DLNR

In May, DLNR made 28 arrests at the state park because hikers failed to obtain permits for access to the full Kalalau Trail past the 2-mile mark. Permits can be obtained from the DLNR website.

“We’re charged with determining the carrying capacity of both the natural resource and manmade features there, and want to ensure that visitors to this incredible place take away positive memories,” DLNR Chair Suzanne Case said in the press release. “Many have planned for a life-time to do the Kalalau backpack, and we intend to honor their dreams and accomplishments by ensuring Napali is a true wilderness.”

The trail, which narrows to 16 inches or less at some points, stretches from Kee Beach to Kalalau Beach. The Kalalau Valley lies at the end of the trail. In 2014, the state rescued 121 hikers stranded at Hanakapiai beach after the stream of the same name overflowed, blocking the hikers’ exit. In January, Kauai police found the body of a 39-year-old Dutch woman who they suspect fell to her death while hiking the trail.

Chief Robert Farrell SOTS, May 26, 2017 from Hawaii DLNR on Vimeo.

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