National Park Under Threat From Dumping and ATVs

The Hof Hasharon national park, which includes an internationally recognized Marine Protected Area, is being destroyed by illegal dumping and other activities.

Several weeks ago environmental activists asked Environmental Protection Minister Gilad Erdan to take action in order to safeguard the park. He promised to step up the effort, but noted that the state's scope of action is very limited because most of the area of the park is privately owned land.

The damage caused to the area by off-road vehicles is considerable, and in recent months it has become very apparent. In some parts of the park construction materials are regularly dumped illegally.

Yoel Hadida, an activist for the Green Party in Herzliya, explained that the park is home to a very rare and endangered species of flower, a variety of sorrel known as Rumex rothschildianus. Hadida says that hundreds of revelers converge near the habitat every night during the summer.

"They rip the area apart," confirmed Uri Keiser, a ranger for the Israel Nature and Parks Authority. Keiser said that sand from the beach is also stolen for use in construction. He noted that the 400-dunam park (100 acres) contains a rich variety of beach vegetation, including flowers.

"We are preparing a plan for the preservation and rehabilitation of the area," Keiser said. "The local planning and construction council has the authority to issue a permit that would enable us to bar vehicles from the area, vehicles for security reasons, without fencing in the whole area. That would preserve the park and the private lands. We plan to allow vehicle access only to two parking lots, and to permit vehicle and pedestrian traffic only within the park itself," Keiser said.