Frequently asked questions and answers about
Kahoolawe Island, provided courtesy of the
Kahoolawe Island Reserve Commission (KIRC).
How Can I access the Kao Island Reserve?
Access to the reserve - which includes the island and
two miles of ocean surrounding the island - is restricted
because of the continued danger of unexploded ordnance.
Access to the reserve is permitted only with authorization
from the KIRC for specific purposes, such as restoration,
education, and culture. Access opportunities are limited to
volunteering with the KIRC in support of its cultural
and nature resource projects and participating in cultural
access with the Protect Kahoolawe Ohana (PKO). Persons
interested in volunteering may contact the KIRC on Maui
at 808-243-5020. The PKO access information can be obtained
from their Web site at
Is It Safe to Access the Reserve?
No. Unexploded ordnance hazards remain throughout
the Kahoolawe Island Reserve, even in the cleared areas,
as well as in the uncleared areas and in the surrounding
waters. Because of the existing hazards, including
unexploded ordnance, rough terrain, and harsh environmental
elements, no unauthorized persons are allowed into the
reserve, and protective measures have been adopted to maximize
safety for those persons with permission to access the reserve.
An access and risk management plan was developed specifically for
Are there facilities for volunteers who access the reserve?
Basic facilities and amenities, such as toilets and camp
sites, are provided for individuals and groups who access the
reserve as part of an authorized access. Volunteers must
find their own transportation to the island of Maui.
Transportation to Kahoolawe will be provided.
Is fishing or boating allowed in the reserve waters?
Trolling is permitted on two scheduled weekends each
month in waters deeper then 30 fathoms (180 feet).
No other fishing, ocean recreation, or additional
activities are allowed within the reserve. Absolutely
no bottom fishing or use of anchors is permitted because
of the hazard of unexploded ordnance and risk of damage
to coral and other parts of the marine ecosystem.
Are there special rules that apply to the reserve?
Yes. Those rules are found in Chapter 13-261,
Hawaii Administrative Rules. The Kahoolawe Island
Reserve (the island plus the submerged lands and waters
within two nautical miles of the island) is divided into
two zones - A and B. Zone A includes all of the submerged
lands and waters between Kahoolawe's shoreline and
the waters less then 30 fathoms. Unauthorized entry into
Zone A is prohibited at all times, except in case of
emergency. Zone B includes all waters and submerged
lands between a depth of 180feet and two nautical miles
from the shoreline of the island. Unauthorized entry
into Zone B is prohibited at all times, except for trolling
on the days stipulated by the
Open Waters Schedule/ Trollers must remain
underway at all times while in Zone B.
Who enforces the rules?
The rules governing the use of the submerged lands
and waters within two nautical miles of the shoreline
of Kahoolawe are enforced by the State of Hawaii,
Department of Land and Natural Resources, Division
of Conservation and Resources Enforcement (DOCARE), as
well as the KIRC and the United States Coast Guard.
What is KIRC doing to restore the reserve?
KIRC is actively pursuing restoration projects in both
the ocean and island portions of the reserve. Data on
species currently living in the reserve is continuously
being collected. Ongoing monitoring is conducted to
detect any threats to the ecosystem and species that inhabit the reserve.
On Kahoolawe, the restoration program has worked successfully
to reforest and re-vegetate portions of the island, implement
erosion control systems, and replace alien plant species with
native species. To support these efforts, a 500 thousand
gallon rainwater catchment and storage facility that provides
irrigation has been installed and operated for more than a year,
greatly accelerating the pace of revegatation and environmental
How can I volunteer to help with restoration efforts?
Anyone interested in volunteering to help in restoration
activities can contact the restoration program at
How does the KIRC care for the cultural resources of the reserve?
KIRC operates a culture and education program to
ensure that the island and its cultural resources
are managed effectively and appropriately.
Cultural protocols are carefully followed and cultural practitioners
routinely participate in planning and conducting
cultural activities. Restoration work is
continuously carried out on archaeological and
cultural sites throughout the island.
Can someone from KIRC come to my school or organization to talkabut Kahoolawe?
Yes, the KIRC Cultural and Education Program provides
speakers and materials to educate students and
community groups about Kahoolawe. Please call the
KIRC office at 808-243-5020 for more information.
How can I help Kahoolawe?
You or a group you belong to can volunteer to work
on KIRC projects. Call 808-243-5020.
Can I make a donation?
Donations are gratefully accepted. Please
call 808-243-5020 for information on giving
Who is responsible for the management of the Kahoolawe Island Reserve?
The Kahoolawe Island Reserve Commission
was established in 1993 by the Hawaii State Legislature
to manage the reserve. Composed of seven commission
members, the KIRC relies on a staff of 22 with expertise
in Native Hawaiian culture, ocean management,
environmental restoration, planning, policy development,
and ordnance safety to fulfill its management
What is planned for Kahoolawe?
The KIRC strategic plan calls for a campaign
to raise funds through partnerships and grants
to provide a sustainable trust fund, which will
enable needed restoration, stewardship,
cultural and educational initiatives to succeed.
A copy of the strategic plan can be found on the
KIRC Web site at
Kahoolawe.hawaii.gov The strategic plan initiatives
-Assessing and stabilizing cultural sites,
and providing for appropriate access and
-Systematically restoring the native environment.
-Developing a significant volunteer base for the
purpose of cultural and natural resource
-Installing and maintaining appropriate and
sustainable infrastructure, including on-island
-Improving and establishing new inter-island transportation,
along with energy, communication and water resources,
sanitation, and a Kihei information center.
-Developing an enforcement network spanning the
community and government to protect Kahoolawe and its
waters from illegal, inappropriate, and unsafe use.
-Maintaining a significant on-island presence for the
purpose of managing and protecting the reserve.
-Creating and distributing educational programs
and materials to further the public's understanding
of the cultural, historical, and spiritual significance
Where can I get more information about Kahoolawe?
Information about Kahoolawe and the reserve
is available at the KIRC Web site
Kahoolawe.hawaii.gov. For specific inquiries,
contact the KIRC office by phone at
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