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Land board approves fines for Big Island lava tour company

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Puu Kahaualea has been buried slowly by the Puu Oo eruption on Kilauea Volcano over the years, and the ongoing June 27 flow has nearly finished the job. The above photo shows Puu Kahaualea seen on Friday.

A Big Island tour company that operated unpermitted tours of the lava flow near Puu Oo is facing more than $9,000 in fines.

The state Department of Land and Natural Resources approved a $9,100 fine for Ahiu Hawaii LLC Friday, reported The Hawaii Tribune-Herald. The company is being ordered to pay administrative and civil penalties for holding tours in Kahaualea Natural Area Reserve, which restricted public access in July 2007.

Department spokesman Deborah Ward wrote in an email that Enocencio had "indicated verbally that he plans to request a contested case hearing." Ward said he has 10 business days to do so.

In a previous email, Enocencio said his company complied with the state’s cease-and-desist letters and began launching its lava flow tours on property it owns near Wao Kele O Puna, where an old hunting trail leads to the lava field.

"We have continued to ask DLNR to show us the boundaries of (Kahaualea) so that we may be in the parameters of the law, but they never tried," Enocencio wrote.

The state denied Enocencio’s application to lead commercial hiking trips in the reserve in May after they had delivered several cease-and-desist notices. Less than two months later, the Hawaii Fire Department responded to a report that a female had injured her ankle while on a hiking tour with Ahiu Hawaii.

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