HILO, Hawaii — The state Department of Land and Natural Resources has proposed changes to rules regulating activity in the state’s forest reserves.

The department said the last comparable rules update was done in 1993, the Hawaii Tribune-Herald reported Saturday.

The department’s Division of Forestry and Wildlife said the changes, which would impact 1,060 square miles (2,745 square kilometers) statewide and 740 square miles (1,915 square kilometers) on the Big Island, are needed to address new technologies, such as drones and to provide more options for enforcement.

Major proposed changes it highlights are establishing parking fees in high-use and developed recreational areas, authorizing sustainable forestry or ecotourism with a permit and requiring permits for use of drones.

The changes also include a new section that would allow a state Land Board official to close parts of a forest reserve for up to 90 days in the event of an emergency or when deemed necessary protection of the environment and cultural resources, public safety, property or management activities. The department said this would allow it to respond quickly in emergencies where there are “immediate threats to public health and safety, such as in the event of a natural disaster.”

The proposed rules also contain new language on camping, which is technically prohibited without a permit.

Instead of stating that residing within a forest reserve is prohibited, the rules would say: “No person shall camp, erect any tent, tarpaulin, or other structure, or use recreational trailers or other camper units within any forest reserve” without authorization.

Closing or restricting access in forest reserves was an issue during the Thirty Meter Telescope protests a few years ago, where opponents camped on forest reserve land across from the Maunakea Visitor Information Station.


Information from: Hawaii Tribune-Herald, http://www.hawaiitribune-herald.com/