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Seminar addresses commercial activities on state, county lands

LIHU‘E — The Kaua‘i Visitors Bureau and the state Department of Land and Natural Resources sought to clarify rules and regulations associated with work on public lands during a virtual seminar.

The meeting was a result of two commercial-photography companies receiving cease-and-desist notices from the DLNR Division of State Parks last year instructing them to remove photos from their websites and other platforms that were either shot in off-limits areas or without required permits.

“Admittedly, due to the various land jurisdictions involved and the evolution of the commercial-photography industry, we haven’t always made changes in our rules,” Kelly Pila of the Hawai‘i State Film Office said. “The proliferation of internet sites promoting wedding services has not only increased the workload of approving agencies but has complicated the process.”

The KVB and Kaua‘i Wedding Professionals Association have fielded complaints of photography companies taking clients into areas that are clearly closed.

“The most-frequent complaints center around Wailua Falls,” KVB Executive Director Sue Kanoho said. “It gives the entire wedding-professionals industry a black eye when people standing at the Wailua Falls overlook see a photographer, a bride, a groom, or a drone operator at the base of the waterfall. There are signs indicating that it is a closed area, so no one should be using the excuse of ‘We didn’t know.’”

Wailua Falls is under the jurisdiction of the DLNR Division of State Parks.

“We want to work with commercial photographers who follow the rules, obtain the required permits and don’t conduct commercial activities in established closed areas such as Wailua Falls or in the Napali Coast State Wilderness Park,” DSP Assistant Administrator Alan Carpenter said. “While we support the industry, our primary mission is the protection of natural and cultural resources.”

Presenters detailed what activities require permits, delineated differences in state and county rules, spoke on when multiple permits may be required, and discussed posting and tagging photographs responsibly.

Other speakers were county Office of Economic Development Kaua‘i Film Commissioner Sandy Ka‘auwai and DLNR Land Division Kaua‘i Land Agent Alison Neustein.

The seminar is posted online as a resource for current and future commercial photographers. Future seminars are being planned to address other types of permitted commercial activities on public lands.

“We realize there is concern about over-tourism in our community, and this is one step to ensure that commercial activity can legally and appropriately co-exist with other public land uses without unnecessarily detracting from the recreational or outdoor experiences of both visitors and kama‘aina,” Kanoho said.
Source: The Garden Island

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