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Pololu Valley ‘never meant to be a visitor attraction’


POLOLU, Hawaii (KHON2) — The overuse of Pololu Valley has the residents of Hawaii Island pushing to protect it.

Na Ala Hele Trails and Access System Specialist and Department of Land and Natural Resource Division of Forestry and Wildlife’s point-of-contact Jackson Bauer explains the collaboration between the state and the community.

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“We’ve been meeting with the community, many of whom are lineal descendants of Pololu, so they have deep connections to the area. Brainstorming led to the great idea for having onsite stewardship. That’s the model we always want to follow; empowering communities to lead their own initiatives,”

JACKSON BAUER, NA ALA HELE TRAILS AND ACCESS SYSTEM SPECIALIST

Sara Pule-Fujii, a Hawaii Island resident has been known as the steward of the land by educating visitors whenever she can.

I tell them about the burial sites down in the valley and ask them to respect the area and my ancestors. I warn them to not go into the ocean because of strong currents. And I ask them not to stray off the trail or the beach.

SARA PULE-FUJII

Pule-Fujii warns visitors “not to travel inland as its private property.” She also tells them that the “land is sacred to the Hawaiian people.”

“We ask that you have respect,” said Pule-Fujii.

According to DLNR, the state has appropriated $500,000 in Capital Improvement Funding to help with the planning process for the community. And lawmakers are committed to making sure that whatever plan is made to protect the trail, the small parking area and the cliff will be driven by the community.

 

“Pololu was never meant to be a visitor attraction. It has no infrastructure and just happens to be at the end of the road and is very scenic. The community-stewardship initiative is already showing evidence of success as more engagement with visitors means they’ll understand and hopefully respect the place in a more meaningful way. This program was and is community-driven, and we’re eager to see what they come up with next.” 

JACKSON BAUER, NA ALA HELE TRAILS AND ACCESS SYSTEM SPECIALIST

DLNR said the planning process is focused on community engagement. And DOFAW is in the process of selecting a consultant to help facilitate community engagement.

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Rep. David Tarnas said, “As the representative for Pololu, I can’t do my job effectively without listening to the people who live there. Daily, they experience the negative impacts of too many people loving their place to death.”



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