April 6 – Last year after Hawaii was flooded with visitors in 2019, there were almost no tourists due to pandemic travel restrictions, but there were plenty of local residents, many exploring parks for the first time for safe, free family activities and exercise, said Curt Cottrell, director of state parks for the State Department of Land and Natural Resources.
Locals were also drawn to the absence of tourists: “When we reopened the Pali Lookout, I asked someone when it was last seen and they said, ‘Ho, it’s been at least 30 years. I wanted the Lookout see without any penalties. “
Now that tourism is recovering, the park department’s staff are seeing an increase in traffic, and while it’s too early to say whether local usage will remain high, one thing is certain: regardless of who recreational users are their growing numbers and disregard for park rules overwhelm the fragile natural and cultural resources of the parks, which create friction with the islands’ host culture, whose traditional practices include fishing, gathering, camping, surfing, and nature observation.
This spring, for the first time, the department will focus on how to manage competing cultural and recreational interests as part of its regular five-year reassessment and update of its nationwide comprehensive outdoor recreation plan, and seeks public participation in its Wednesday and Wednesday meetings on Wednesday on Saturday.
“We want to find ways to balance the needle with cultural and recreational uses in order to preserve the sanctity of these places,” said Cottrell.
Before it spread to social media in 2015, the state park of Makua Beach, Keawaula (Yokohama Bay), and Kaena Point in Oahu’s Waianae neighborhood were relatively peaceful and pristine, said Micah Doane, his late 19th-century family in the Makua Valley originates.
“Now they are swimming with dolphins which stresses them and is culturally inappropriate and has really created tension with the Lee community and upper Makua cave hike,” said Doane, co-founder of Protectors of Paradise, a beach cleaning and nonprofit restoration dated by Board of Land and Natural Resources has been appointed curator of Keawaula.
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“There’s been huge damage: thousands of pounds of trash, human droppings, people driving on the beach, and native plants,” he said, “with no law enforcement during the night hours and only one maintenance worker for the entire state park” due to budget constraints.
In the meantime, the state in Keawaula has closed the entrance gates to vehicles to prevent illegal camping and large group parties at Kaena Point.
“Many families report that they are so sad to see Makua and Keawaula as places to be lost,” Doane added. “So many families don’t even want to go anymore because it’s just too stressful.”
Similar problems affect state parks such as Keala Kekua Bay on the Big Island, which is overwhelmed by dolphin swimmers, paddlers, and snorkelers. Polihale on the west side of Kauai, where vehicles drive over sand dunes with burials; and Little Beach in Makena, Maui, known on social media as “the bare beach,” said Cottrell.
Cottrell, Doane, and community leaders in Waianae suggested providing better education for visitors through signs, websites, and personal engagement, and adding more reservation systems like those successfully implemented at Haena State Park, Kauai.
“We malama (care for the environment) in our moku (district),” said Georgiana Navarro, vice president of the Makaha Hawaiian Civic Club, “and we can let other people know that they are respectful, be careful wherever they go.” “”
“We have a really close community and everyone knows how to pick up their Opala and make sure there aren’t any harsh activities,” said Rochelle Nohea Kawelo, president of the Waianae Hawaiian Civic Club.
Traditional practices are sustainable, added Shirline Ho, president of the Lualualei Hawaiian Civic Club.
“We fish here, we collect from the forests, but we do it according to the lunar calendar,” so as not to affect the species’ reproductive cycles, Ho said, while Makahiki is a season of the year to play games and celebrate the harvest and that knowledge is the key to understanding and maintaining culture and place.
VIRTUAL PUBLIC MEETING – What: DLNR State Parks Division will host virtual public briefing on Hawaii’s nationwide comprehensive outdoor recreation plan where you can ask questions and share your thoughts. You can also complete an outdoor recreation survey until May 3rd. – When: Wednesday, 6 p.m. to 7.30 p.m. and Saturday, 9.10.30 a.m. – Where: You can find links to participate in the meetings at.