DLNR Arrests Man for Illegal Lava Tours

February 12, 2015, 5:25 PM HST (Updated February 12, 2015, 5:27 PM)
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On Wednesday night, the State Department of Land and Natural Resources Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement officers arrested a tour guide who was conducting illegal commercials tours in the Kahaualea Natural Area Reserve. The area has been closed by the DNLR as hazardous conditions related to the ongoing volcanic activity in the area persist.

The offender was identified as Joel D. Scharer, Jr., 24, of Hilo.

Investigation by DOCARE officers led to the discovery of Scharer as a tour guide who led tours into the closed reserve area. He was transported to the Hilo Police Station for booking.

Scharer was charged with second degree criminal trespassing, a petty misdemeanor, second degree reckless endangering, prohibited entry into a Natural area reserve, and illegal commercial activities within the natural area reserve, which are all misdemeanor offenses.

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“The safety of the public remains our top priority,” Carty S. Chang, Interim DLNR Chairperson said in a statement. “Illegal commercial tours into areas closed by volcanic activity are dangerous to both the public as well as rescue responders. Violators will face citation or arrest.”

To report suspected trespassing or illegal commercial activity within the closed Kahaualea NAR, as well as the closed Wao Kele O Puna Forest Reserve, call the DLNR Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement at 643-3567.

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