(BIVN) – A new Hawaii Tourism Authority sponsored program hopes to mitigate tourism impacts to Pololu Valley on the north end of Hawaiʻi island. From the HTA:
Pololu Valley is a majestic and historical area in North Kohala on Hawaii Island. Recently, there has been a rapid increase of visitors to the Pololu Lookout, Trail, and coastal shoreline, and there is a growing need to mitigate the impacts to the community and natural and cultural resources.
In response to requests from the community, the Hawaii Tourism Authority is funding the Pololu Trail Steward Program – a pilot project in collaboration with KUPU, Na Ala Hele Trails and Access Program, and the lineal descendent community of Pololu, Makanikahio and neighboring ahupuaa. The goal is to utilize local “stewards” to assist with interpreting the natural and cultural history of the area, as well as mitigate unwanted behaviors and ensure safety. Partners hope that this project can serve as a model for collaborations with local communities to manage the impact of tourism on Hawaii’s natural and cultural resources, to include steering visitors towards safe, responsible behaviors while enjoying the destination.
The Na Ala Hele Trails and Access Program, which is part of the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources will be hiring four part-time stewards, through KUPU, for the pilot project. From August 2021 through January 31, 2022, the stewards will assist with visitor management, safety, and trail maintenance as well as sharing their knowledge of the Pololu area with visitors.
Pololu Valley is one of the hotspots community members and stakeholders identified as part of HTA’s Hawaii Island Destination Management Action Plan (DMAP). Action A in the DMAP calls to protect and preserve culturally significant places and hotspots.