HONOLULU -May 1,2008- A bill to give the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) greater enforcement powers to protect Hawaii's public lands and beaches has passed both chambers of the State Legislature and now heads to the Governor's desk for her signature.

Senator Mike Gabbard authored and introduced SB 1891 last year after receiving complaints from people statewide and reading media reports about the problem of ATVs and other vehicles driving on our beaches. These vehicles have created a public safety hazard, cause destruction to our natural ecosystem, and can potentially desecrate sacred burial grounds.

"This bill is about giving DLNR officers the tools they need to better protect people and the environment from ATV and 4 X 4 owners who choose to be reckless and use our beaches for sport," said Gabbard. "Our beaches are beautiful places where families go to rest and relax. They shouldn't have to be constantly looking over their shoulders and worrying about being mowed down by an ATV."

SB 1891 would establish criminal penalties (petty misdemeanor) for violations on public lands. The bill would allow DLNR Enforcement officers to issue criminal citations, arrest violators, and confiscate vehicles. Fines would be $500 for the 1st offense, $1,000 for the 2nd offense, and $2,000 for the 3rd or any additional offenses. This bill would also allow DLNR to address other violations on public lands, such as setting unpermitted fires and illegal dumping.

The Governor has until July 8th to either sign the bill into law, allow the bill to become law without her signature, or to veto.

Senator Gabbard represents District 19, which includes Waikele, Village Park, Royal Kunia, Makakilo, Kapolei, Kalaeloa, Honokai Hale, and portions of Waipahu and Ko 'Olina. For more information, please contact Senator Gabbard's office at 586-6830.