Filling a need: Nonprofit steps up to cover sanitation at Kiholo Bay

  • The Kiholo State Park Preserve area is seen from the air. (Courtesy photo/Special to West Hawaii Today)

  • Hui Aloha Kiholo is raising funds to cover the cost of portable toilets and other sanitation necessities at Kiholo State Park Preserve for the next year after.(Courtesy photo/Special to West Hawaii Today)

  • Kalei

  • Hui Aloha Kiholo is raising funds to cover the cost of portable toilets and other sanitation necessities at Kiholo State Park Preserve for the next year after the group said it was recently notified by the state funding had dried up due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. (Courtesy photo/Special to West Hawaii Today)

  • Kiholo Bay continues to attract oceangoers and hikers despite the main gate being closed during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Hui Aloha Kiholo is raising funds to cover the cost of portable toilets and other sanitation necessities at Kiholo State Park Preserve for the next year after. (Laura Ruminski/West Hawaii Today file photo)

Hui Aloha Kiholo is working to make a crappy situation better.

The nonprofit steward for the Kiholo Bay area is raising funds to cover the cost of portable toilets and other sanitation necessities at Kiholo State Park Preserve for the next year after the group said it was recently notified by the state funding had dried up due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

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“When State Parks told us ‘we can’t pay for this,’ (covering the cost) wasn’t even an option,” said Hui Aloha Kiholo Executive Director Nahaku Kalei. “We knew we were going to just take it over and were going to do what we needed to do to be able to care for Kiholo.”

Approximately $30,000 is needed to cover waste management at the North Kona preserve that includes weekly maintenance of nine portable toilets, trash management and increased sanitation.

As of Monday, nearly $12,000 had been raised via the organization’s “For the Love of Luas” fundraiser, Kalei said. Mike and Alexandra Sammon have pledged $15,000 to match all donations made by June 30.

“A huge mahalo to them and every single person who in any way is contributing to this — whether it just be a good thoughts in Kiholo’s direction or a $5 donation or whatever it might be,” Kalei said.

The port-a-potty issue came to light in mid-March after the state locked the gates at the top of the nearly mile-long access road and shuttered portable toilets at the shoreline camping area. That action, Kalei said, shifted hikers and oceangoers to the park’s northern end where no facilities existed.

“We started to see, unfortunately, evidence of folks using the restroom in other places throughout the park,” she said. “We started seeing excrement int he lava fields out there.”

Acting quickly, the group, which jointly manages the park with the Division of State Parks as part of a curatorship agreement, funded a single lua for the northern end.

“We put it in thinking that it would be kind of a stop-gap measure, until the park reopened and the State Parks opened the lua (at the southern end) again,” Kalei said.

But that wouldn’t be the case. A a few weeks later, Kalei said, the nonprofit was contacted by State Parks notifying the group that the state’s budget for Kiholo — funded by entry fees from other parks, like Hapuna — was shot.

“It was just one conversation and we’re like, ‘well if you can’t do it, we’re going to do it,’” she said, noting the group’s quick move was prompted by concern over the park reopening to vehicular access without facilities.

Hui Aloha Kiholo took over the contract with Kona Lua toward the end of May and all nine portable toilets — including the new one installed at the north end of the park — remain open.

“We’re really glad for that and the fundraiser is so that we can sustain that contract for a year, which is what we’ve committed to with State Parks so that they can get their feet back under them and hopefully take it back over at that point,” Kalei said.

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Attempts to reach the Department of Land and Natural Resources, under which the Division of State Parks falls, regarding the services at Kiholo and other state facilities were unsuccessful as of press-time Monday.

All donations are tax deductible and can be made online at www.huialohakiholo.org/for-the-love-of-luas.

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