LIHUE, Hawaii — Officers from the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources arrested six people last week for camping without permits on Kauai.

The officers dismantled 15 camps, continuing what they call the effort to restore lawfulness to Napali and address the damage squatters have done to natural and cultural resources, The Garden Island reported (http://bit.ly/2sO3MUo ).

The squatters arrested established gardens where they were growing bananas, papaya, taro and other fruits in the valley. Officers also confiscated eight marijuana plants and loads of trash from the Kalalau Valley.

Department Chairwoman Suzanne Case said the effort to stop illegal camping began two years ago and is beginning to pay off.

“Every week we receive correspondence from people who’ve legally hiked into Kalalau and are commenting on how clean the area is and how the number of illegal camps and campers are greatly diminished,” Case said.

State Parks Assistant Administrator Alan Carpenter recently visited the Kalalau Valley and said it was the cleanest he’s seen it in the past 25 years, in terms of trash and illegal campers.

“The degradation to cultural sites is at an all-time high, however, because those impacts are cumulative, representing decades of abuse,” Carpenter said. “Reversing those impacts and restoring sites is a future goal, requiring a combination of documentation, compliance, staffing and community stewardship.”

State Parks Administrator Curt Cottrell, however, said a permanent staff dedicated to patrolling the valley is needed to make real progress.

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