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DLNR NEWS RELEASE: Eleven arrests, marijuana plants, and illegal crossbow mark latest Napali enforcement effort

Posted on May 26, 2017 in Latest Department News


Combined DOCARE & State Sheriff Operation

(Honolulu) – Work to restore the Nāpali Coast State Wilderness Park to its true wilderness character continued during a three-day law enforcement operation this week. A dozen officers from the DLNR Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement (DOCARE) and the Dept. of Public Safety’s Sheriff Division arrested eleven people for being in a closed area without a permit in the Kalalau area of the park.  A twenty-year-old man, who could not produce an identification, was handcuffed and flown out of the park and booked on charges at the Kaua‘i Police Department.  So far in May, a total of 28 people have been arrested for failing to have the permit required for traveling past the two-mile marker on the famed Kalalau Trail.  During law enforcement efforts over the past two years more than 200 people have been arrested.

“We still have work to do,” commented DOCARE Enforcement Chief Robert Farrell. On this, his first trip to the Nāpali Coast since becoming state conservation enforcement chief, he joined his officers as they hiked up the rugged Kalalau Valley in search of illegal squatter camps.  On Wednesday they located numerous camps.  At two, they pulled up small marijuana plants.  At one they confiscated an illegal crossbow. Both camps are well established and elaborate.  One, where squatters had recently posted a web video depicting a brazen party and all the comforts of home, had a pizza oven, an enclosure with a queen-sized bed, what appeared to be an alcohol still, and an extensive system of solar and battery powered lights for its marijuana growing operation.

Farrell added, “The Nāpali 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. 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.  DOCARE plans to increase its frequency of patrols, which unfortunately means shorting attention in other areas.  The division fully supports the Division of State Parks’ continuing efforts to secure funding for dedicated, full-time staff in Hawai‘i’s largest and most remote park to provide education, outreach, emergency response assistance, and law enforcement notification.”

The chief, who has previously worked as a game warden in California as well as in the field on Hawaiʻi Island, said, “What’s happening in Kalalau is reminiscent of illegal pot growing operations on state and federal lands in California.  Like the California marijuana growers, the Kalalau squatters have no regard for the law or for protection of natural and cultural resources.

He added, “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.  We are continuing to have zero tolerance for these kinds of behaviors and when we catch you, you will be arrested.”

The Nāpali coast enforcement operations are fully supported by DLNR leadership. Chair Suzanne Case said, “Law abiding local residents and visitors from all over the world get permits to make the challenging and rewarding 11-mile, one-way hike to the State designated camping area at Kalalau Beach.  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.  Many have planned for a life-time to do the Kalalau backpack, and we intend to honor their dreams and accomplishments by ensuring Nāpali is a true wilderness.”

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(All video/images courtesy Hawai‘i DLNR)

Video News Release:

HD video: (see shot below)

DOCARE Enforcement Chief Robert Farrell SOTs: (see transcriptions below)

High Resolution photographs:

Link to Renegades, Risks and Rewards of the Napali Coast 2016 TV documentary:


Media Contact:

Dan Dennison

Senior Communications Manager

(808) 587-0407








Napali Coast State Wilderness Park, May 2017 Enforcement Operations

Video Shot Sheet



:00-2:25           Scenic and law enforcement aerials


2:25-7:50         DOCARE checks of camp sites in designated camping area at Kalalau

Beach, Kalalau Valley illegal squatter camps with marijuana, crossbow, grow

operation, etc.


7:50-9:30         Man with no ID being escorted to landing zone and flying out


9:30-10:22       Scenic shots of park from Kalalau Beach



DOCARE Enforcement Chief Robert Farrell SOTS

0:00-1:09         So yesterday we came in early in the morning and hiked along the legal camping areas and checked a few folks. Most of the people had permits. We did notice that there were a few campsites that have been there for quite a while. So, nobody was there.  We hiked up the canyon outside of the legal camping area and we came on several individuals who were in illegal camps that have been there for quite a long time. A lot of infrastructure, a lot of stuff that were packed in, some environmental damage. There was an illegal cross bow in one of the camps. They may have been poaching the local wildlife; goat and pigs. We found some small marijuana starter plants and we found some larger marijuana, actually budding plant. There were several subjects in the area. They had no permits, in addition to being inside of the illegal camping area. It’s something that we don’t like to see back here. It is something that is detrimental to the environment.


1:11-1:53         The thing about this place is it is very, very remote. It’s logistically challenging to both put officers in in here and keep officers in here in any kind of sustained effort. We are really just back here trying to spot check, when we can. So it’s a very difficult, logistically challenging place to enforce. There is no communication. Satellite phones are the only way to establish contact with anybody for emergency services, or any type of law enforcement actions that we need to take. Once we have people back here, getting them out of the area safely is a big challenge.  So, it’s a very challenging environment to work in.


1:55- 2:22        There is a lot of places for people to run and hide. So we are seeing a lot of folks that have set up various established camps, some cashes of equipment, food, and supplies, so that these folks can survive out here for a very long time. It makes it very difficult for us to come in, one, two, or three day operation to try and cover all of the terrain that we need to and try and contact the people that are back here.


2:24-3:00         The biggest thing that we need to do is concentrate on our frequency of patrol. Now, of course that is robbing Peter to pay Paul. We are stealing resources from other areas. So we really need some dedicated resources back here in terms of education and outreach, in terms of law enforcement presence, all those things come together to make sure only legal campers are back here, with a permit.  So, I think it’s just frequency of patrol in a concentrated and coordinated effort between the various Divisions that have jurisdictions back here.



3:02-3:57         I have flashbacks to California and seeing the national forest and the state parks there and being degraded by illegal marijuana cultivation. Very similar environment. Very challenging area to work, that is my first inclination, when I comeback that’s the perspective that I see. How do we catch people, get them out, and hold them accountable for being back there illegally. On top of that, the biggest problem is, I’m not against camping. I believe that people should be able to come back here and enjoy the most unique, one of the most unique environment. However they need to do it in a legal way. We need to follow the rules and regulations, and the people that we caught yesterday are just impacting the landscape, disrespecting the cultural significance of some of the items that back here, and it’s just a very disturbing for me to see that.