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Pololū Trail Steward Pilot Project to Begin in August

July 9, 2021, 11:54 AM HST
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Pololū Valley, nestled in North Kohala, is one of the Big Island’s most iconic and historical regions.

Recently, however, there has been a rapid increase of visitors to the Pololū Lookout, the Pololū Trail, and its coastal shoreline, resulting in a growing need to mitigate the impacts to the community as well as the valley’s natural and cultural resources.

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Image: James Grenz

In response to requests from the community, the Hawai´i Tourism Authority is funding the Pololū Trail Steward Program – a pilot project in collaboration with KUPU, Na Ala Hele Trails and Access Program, and the lineal descendent community of Pololū, Makanikahio and neighboring ahupua´a. 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.

Pololū Valley is one of the hotspots community members and stakeholders identified as part of HTA’s Hawai´i Island Destination Management Action Plan (DMAP). Action A in the DMAP calls to protect and preserve culturally significant places and hotspots.

Partners say they hope that this project can serve as a model for collaborations with local communities to manage the impact of tourism on Hawai´i’s natural and cultural resources to include steering visitors towards safe, responsible behaviors while enjoying the destination.

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The Na Ala Hele Trails and Access Program, which is part of the Hawai´i Department of Land and Natural Resources, will be hiring four part-time stewards, through KUPU, for the pilot project. From August 2021 through January 2022, the stewards will assist with visitor management, safety, and trail maintenance as well as sharing their knowledge of the Pololū area with visitors.

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