Campground operator Craig Chapman said Hawaii’s sudden closing of the state-owned Kahuku campgrounds at Malaekahana State Recreation Area is costing him thousands of dollars and inconveniencing hundreds of people.

“It’s literally bankrupted our nonprofit,” he said.

Two trees fell within the last two months. In October, two women were seriously injured. On Nov. 21, the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) closed the Kahuku side of the park, saying it was unsafe. The state has marked several large trees for trimming or removal.

But Chapman insists they don’t pose a threat. “We went out and took a look at the trees that we could find and they’ve got a yellow band around them. They’re not in an area that would be unsafe for the public,” he said.

Chapman said he’s had to cancel more than 350 reservations booked through the end of the year. He said the refunds add up to about $25,000. He has managed the Kahuku section of Malaekahana for 20 years on a month-to-month lease. He is out at the end of the year.

DLNR has called its relationship with Chapman “complicated.” In 2012 it pointed to numerous unauthorized improvements, multiple EPA and health department violations, and money past due for a water bill.

Chapman said all complaints were addressed.  “We have never done anything to knowingly hurt the state of Hawaii or that property,” he said.

Chapman rented eco-cabins, yurts, grass shacks and camp sites. He said his nonprofit averaged about $300,000 in revenue, and the money went back into the property.

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