The overall mission of the Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement is to promote the safe and responsible use of Hawaii’s natural resources.
The Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement (DOCARE) has primary responsibility for resource enforcement in the State. Hawaii has the fourth largest coastline in the nation. There are 23,000 acres of inland surface water, 3 million acres of state ocean waters, 410,000 acres of coral reef around the main Hawaiian Islands. We have the largest tropical rainforest in the United States and the eleventh largest state forest of which over one million acres are utilized for hunting. In addition, there are 2 million acres of conservation land and 1.2 million acres of state owned lands. At the present time, there are — officers throughout the State that attempt to contact, inform, educate, and provide enforcement to the 1.2 million residents and 6 million visitors that utilize the State’s resources on a regular basis.
A. Summary of Program Objectives
The Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement has primary responsibility for resource enforcement in the State. Our overall mission is to promote the safe and responsible use of Hawaii’s natural resources.
B. Description of Program Objectives
The program objectives are:
1. In partnership with others, to help lead the citizens of Hawaii in developing and maintaining a tradition of ethical use, stewardship and sustainability of our land and natural resources.
2. To educate and inform citizens and visitors alike of the responsible use of Hawaii’s natural resources and the application of natural resource laws, including Hunter Education.
3. In partnership with others, to educate the public in the safe and responsible use of firearms, boats and personal watercraft.
4. To ensure the right of all persons to safely use, share and enjoy Hawaii’s natural resources through firm, fair and effective law enforcement.
I. Program activities can be categorized into three broad areas:
1. Public Safety – the highest priority in any law enforcement entity is the protection of life, health and property. To this end, our program utilizes appropriate enforcement measures to promote responsible conduct by resource users to ensure the safety of all persons.
2. Effective Resource Protection – our program is the enforcement presence for traditional natural resource protection. To ensure sustainability of our resources, we give priority to enforcement of laws, rules and regulations designed to protect Hawaii’s unique and fragile environment.
3. Preventative Enforcement Measures – public education and community outreach efforts are ongoing activities designed to increase the public’s awareness and foster their help and cooperation in sustaining our natural resources.
DOCARE intends to meet its objectives through the efforts of our officers to enforce laws related to natural resources protection and outdoor recreation. The division will guide this effort by providing the officers with the training, direction and support necessary to accomplish the objectives.
II. Program Performance Results
The performance results during the past two years have met historical measurements of effectiveness. Fluctuations are attributed to the changes in opened and closed areas, opened and closed seasons, user impacts, and other resource related activities
The goal of the Department is to promote a life-sustaining Hawaii through the protection of our fragile environment, its natural resource base, and the function and viability of natural systems on which all life depends. Hawaii must protect its ecosystem and manage its natural resources wisely in order that a strong foundation be maintained for future prosperity.
Our program objectives reflect the Department’s mission as they are a gauge in measuring enforcement presence and visibility, resource protection through enforcement actions and preventive action measures through education programs and community outreach.
Program effectiveness is primarily measured by the number of complaints, investigations, and enforcement actions (citations, arrests, warnings) in relation to the amount of time spent on patrol of the areas where these violations occur. Other measures of program effectiveness include the number of conservation education presentations, the number of hunter education students certified, and the number of marijuana plants eradicated from state lands.
1. Continued with implementation of computer consultant’s recommendations including upgrading of existing electronic data processing equipment statewide as well as purchasing of new computer hardware and related software to build up statewide infrastructure and connectivity.
2. Completed statewide training of officers with regard to newly enacted or amended natural resources related statutes and rules.
3. Completed statewide training of officers with regard to Division Policy Manual which established written standards of conduct, resistance control policy, firearms policy, OLEO resin capsicum spray policy, uniform and equipment policy, vehicle use policy, workplace non-violence policy, as well as Equal Employment Opportunity and Affirmative Action, Sexual Harassment and Unlawful Harassment Policies.
4. Completed statewide recall training on the principles of justification for the use of force in law enforcement, self-defense and use of non-deadly force.
5. Currently in the process of drafting a Scuba and Diving Policy and Procedures Manual. Also, drafting a Boating Policy and Procedures Manual.
6. Began exploration of selection of a new, more practical DOCARE uniform.
7. Identified the need for officer’s to wear body armor protection and completed selection of vendor to provide body armor with the aid of the U.S. Department of Justice, Bulletproof Vest Partnership Grant Act.
8. Executed Cooperative Enforcement Agreement with the U.S. Department of Commerce – National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration for the purpose of marine law enforcement.
9. Completed Joint Enforcement Agreement with National Marine Fisheries Service to access funds for marine law enforcement.
10. Completed annual statewide preventative maintenance inspections of the majority of the division’s land mobile telecommunications equipment.
11. Initiated statewide recall training related to the new employee performance appraisal system and implemented this new system.
III. Problems and Issues
Some of the specific areas of concern are:
There is an ongoing perception of some of Hawaii’s resource users that Hawaii’s unique natural resources are unlimited and can withstand unregulated pressure. This demonstrates the need for more enforcement in order to ensure sustainability.
Customary practices brought to Hawaii by newcomers sometimes conflict with local laws and management efforts, creating a greater need for enforcement and education.
Significant population increases and the creation and/or expansion of resource areas (i.e. parks, forests, hunting, hiking trails, restricted areas, fishing and recreational boating) designated for public use increase the need for conservation enforcement and education. DLNR’s conservation and resources enforcement program’s budget and manpower levels have not kept pace with our ever increasing population, expansion of program, and greater then ever areas of responsibility.
Increased utilization of land and water resources under the management of the Division of Water Resource Management and Land Division require greater involvement by DOCARE in monitoring compliance with Department regulations.
Environmental consciousness of our State’s unique natural resources continues to rise, resulting in an increased demand on DOCARE to protect and preserve natural areas, historic sites, refuges, unencumbered state lands and sanctuaries.
User conflicts caused by competing interests have resulted in increased demand for more conservation enforcement intervention.
Native Hawaiian rights and related issues play an increasing role in DLNR’s effort to manage natural resource usage. More attention must be given to community input and recommendations in order to foster voluntary compliance.
Current DOCARE staffing levels make it impossible to provide for adequate coverage on a 24-hour basis. Occasionally, complaints wait 24 hours or longer before an officer can respond to investigate the case. Limited funding for regular and holiday overtime also diminishes our ability to respond to resource violations at the time when our officers are needed the most.
The issues and problems affecting the program require pro-active measures. With limited manpower and decreased funding, DOCARE is primarily responding in a reactive manner. This makes it difficult to protect Hawaii’s unique natural resources and meet community expectations.
More public education from all sectors is needed to promote public awareness and voluntary compliance with sustainable resource use restrictions.
B. Program Change Recommendations to Remedy Problems
1. Organization – initiate integrated planning and restructuring to make efficient and effective use of all enforcement personnel and staff. DOCARE will collect and compile monthly data and written reports in order to examine the time and resources spent on the various functions of the Division. By doing this, DOCARE will be able to best utilize its limited resources both from a staffing and financial viewpoint.
2. Innovation – obtain the necessary equipment to provide immediate access to information that will aid management and enforcement personnel in their duties. DOCARE is working to develop a statewide networking system that will allow the various branches to communicate via personal computer.
3. Funding – budgetary resources must be sufficient to satisfy current operational needs and to ensure responsiveness to emerging issues and opportunities. This includes the need for funding for more manpower, after hours and holiday response efforts.
4. Coordination – maintain, enhance and optimize our working relationships with other local, state and federal agencies to address shared enforcement concerns and responsibilities.
5. Penalties – increase the use of civil penalties through a Department of Land and Natural Resources administrative hearing process thereby reducing the need to process minor offenses through the criminal justice system.
6. Education – continue to work with community groups, resource users and interested individuals in order to ensure voluntary compliance with departmental conditions and restrictions.