DLNR Press Release: COMMUNITY EFFORTS TO PROTECT POLOL® VALLEY MOVE FORWARD
Posted on May 19, 2022 in Latest news from the department, Press room
(Pololū Valley, Hawai’i Island) – “Everyone recognizes the overexploitation of Pololū and the community wants to do something about it,” begins Jackson Bauer.
He is a specialist in the Na Ala Hele access and trail system and the point of contact of the DLNR Forestry and Wildlife Division (DOFAW) with a rural community at the end of the causeway which has been under siege for decades. years by too many visitors.
“We met the community, many of whom are direct descendants of Pololū, so they have deep ties to the area. The brainstorming led to the excellent idea of having stewardship on site. This is the model we always want to follow; empowering communities to lead their own initiatives,” Bauer explained.
One initiative already in place is a community stewardship program. Sara Pule-Fujii, who describes her position as “steward of the land”, was born and raised three minutes down the road from the small parking lot, where she now speaks directly with as many visitors as possible.
“I tell them about the burial places in the valley and ask them to respect the region and my ancestors. I warn them not to go into the ocean because of the strong currents. And I ask them not to stray from the trail or the beach,” Pule-Fujii commented. She also warns them not to travel inland as it is private property. “Some people like to do their business anywhere. I tell them this land is sacred to the Hawaiian people and we ask you to have respect.
Bauer said he thinks everyone agrees that unfettered use of any natural area is unsustainable and never appropriate for sensitive heritage sites like Pololū. “You would never have a concert of five thousand people at Iolani Palace, so why would we have thousands of people here every day?” He asked.
The state legislature appropriated $500,000 in capital improvement funding (CIP) to initiate a planning process for the Pololū Valley. The trail, a small parking area for less than 12 cars, and the cliff that slopes down to the ocean fall under DOFAW’s purview, but DLNR and lawmakers are committed to ensuring that any plans made are developed and piloted. by the local community.
Representative David Tarnas said, “As the state representative for Kohala, I represent the residents of the area surrounding Pololū who experience the impacts of its overuse by visitors every day. I am grateful for the opportunity to support the vision of community leadership and management of Pololū, and encourage all community members to actively participate in this planning process. I look forward to seeing the original and entire intent to protect Pololū, as a community-led initiative, come to fruition.
The planning process is focused on community engagement…reaching lineal descendants and other stakeholders through one-on-one discussions and community-wide meetings. DOFAW is in the process of selecting a consultant to help facilitate community engagement.
“Polū was never meant to be a tourist attraction. It has no infrastructure and is just at the end of the road and is very scenic,” Bauer said. “The community stewardship initiative is already showing evidence of success as more engagement with visitors means they will understand and hopefully respect the place in a more meaningful way. This program was and still is community driven, and we can’t wait to see what they come up with next.
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(All images/videos courtesy of DLNR)
HD video – Pololū (January 12, 2022):
(Shooting sheet attached)
Photographs – Pololū (January 12, 2022):
Senior Communications Manager
Hawaii Department of Lands and Natural Resources