12/02/14 – DLNR Arrests Two Guides For Leading Illegal Lava Viewing Tours Into Wao Kele O Puna Forest And Kahaualea Natural Area ReservesPosted on Dec 2, 2014 in Forestry & Wildlife, News Releases
|DAVID Y. IGE
WILLIAM J. AILA JR,
For Immediate News Release December 2, 2014
WAO KELE O PUNA FOREST AND KAHAUALEA NATURAL AREA RESERVES
PUNA DISTRICT, HAWAII COUNTY — Two guides who were involved in leading tours into the state Wao Kele O Puna Forest Reserve and Kahaualea Natural Area Reserve were arrested by Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement (DOCARE) officers on Monday.. The charges were for prohibited entry into closed areas and for engaging in illegal commercial activities on DLNR-managed lands.
DOCARE officers conducted an undercover operation which resulted in the arrest of Matthew Hoeflinger, 50, of Keaau, and Christa Nicholas, 23, of Mountain View. Hoeflinger and Nicholas were charged with the following:
Reckless endangering in the 2nd degree; conducting illegal commercial activities within a forest reserve; entering a closed area within a natural area reserve; and conducting illegal commercial activities within a natural area reserve, all of which are misdemeanor offenses. They are also being charged with trespassing in the 2nd degree; entering a closed area in a forest reserve, which area petty misdemeanor offenses.
Hoeflinger and Nicholas were transported to the Pahoa Police Station for booking and were subsequently released on their own recognizance.
Entry into closed lands is a violation of Hawaii Administrative Rule Sec. 13-221-4 and Hawaii Revised Statute 171-6, and is subject of penalty up to $5,000 for the first offense.
“DLNR intends to prosecute any trespassers who willfully violate the closures and place enforcement officers and emergency personnel at increased risk,” said William J. Aila,Jr., DLNR chairperson.
Signs have been posted at various access points warning the public of the hazardous conditions.
Public Information Specialist