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Overnight camping at Bellows closing for anticipated return of sea turtle nesting

Closure scheduled from April 19 through Sept. 2, 2021. Weekend, day-use to remain open to public

O‘AHU -- Following the documentation of 7 Hawaiian green sea turtle nesting sites along Bellows Field Beach Park last year, Marine Corps Base Hawai‘I (MCBH) and the Honolulu Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) will be closing the overnight campgrounds at Bellows for an approximately 19-week period this summer.

"We recognize that the campground at Bellows is one of our largest and most popular camping areas on O‘ahu," said Laura H. Thielen, Director of DPR. "As a result of camping being suspended there for several months, we are exploring how to offer more camping opportunities at some of our other campgrounds."

The closure is scheduled to last from Monday, April 19 through Thursday, September 2, 2021 and applies to overnight camping and the twilight use of the bathroom and shower facilities. Weekend day-use of this popular stretch of beach in Waimānalo will continue as regularly allowed, as will military training exercises on the weekdays, though protection measures for identified nesting sites will restrict access to the nesting sites.

The campground closure may be extended past Labor Day Weekend 2021 (Sept. 3, 2021) should the existence of additional nesting sites be observed. Further updates will be provided as we approach that holiday weekend.

This closure is necessary to ensure the protection of this federally-protected, culturally significant, endangered species as the turtles nest, incubate, and hatch along this pristine shoreline. Community, military, and park officials have documented several human activities in this area that threaten the safety of the nesting turtles, such as: illegal beach off-roading, camping fires, dogs, illegal trash dumping, and the presence of artificial lighting.

"The arrival of turtles at Bellows last year was truly unprecedented for us," said Lt. Col. Tim Pochop, Marine Corps Base Hawai‘i's Environmental Division Director. "This year we are being proactive in providing an area for these turtles to nest and hatch, which means limiting nighttime activities. As part of our program MCBH has also implemented a beach monitoring program to identity sea turtle nesting activity along Bellows Beach. We believe this approach balances the needs of the community, our military operations, and these environmental efforts, and we greatly appreciate the assistance of the community in helping to care for our aquatic friends. Please let us know if you see anything on the beach so we can include it in our program. We are serious about our environmental stewardship and safeguarding these protected turtles."

Once a nesting site is confirmed, the area surrounding the nest will be cordoned off from human use. Signs will be posted at the public facilities with information about the turtle nesting sites. We encourage everyone to report any disturbing or illegal behavior against the turtles or nests by calling (808) 285-9529 or (808) 257-2123.

"Keeping Bellows open for daytime use, with respect to the nesting sites, and expanding camping opportunities at other City park locations really balances our kuleana of providing outdoor recreational opportunities to our customers while also being good stewards of the land," said Laura H. Thielen. "That way the natural beauty of our island and the wildlife with which we share it can be preserved for generations to come. We really appreciate the Waimānalo community, campers, and the Marine Corps Base officials for their understanding and assistance in this kākou conservation effort."

If you need an auxiliary aid/service, other accommodations due to a disability, or an interpreter for a language other than English in reference to this announcement, please call DPR at (808) 768-3003 on weekdays from 7:45 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. or email parks@honolulu.gov

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