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Malama Polihale

POLIHALE — This weekend, the state park’s department and a Kaua‘i nonprofit ask the public to be akamai and no‘ono‘o this Fourth of July celebration by helping the lineal descendants of Polihale State Park to malama the ‘aina.

“State parks in Hawai‘i are for the enjoyment of everyone, and this is why alcohol, smoking, unleashed dogs and other incompatible activities are not permitted,” said Dan Dennison, senior communications manager of the state Department of Land and Natural Resources.

“Many state parks have both outstanding natural and cultural attributes that require collective responsibility of patrons to protect. Certain parks have been closed periodically due to rampant bad behaviors, demonstrated by people who have no regard for natural and cultural resources.”

One year ago, thousands of people visited Polihale to come together and celebrate the Fourth of July

“Unfortunately, some of those who came also desecrated native Hawaiian grave-sites, damaged critical habitats for endangered plant species and left tons of trash littered on the beach and throughout the park,” said Brian Russell, treasurer of Hui Malama Polihale.

Last year, the DLNR Division of State Parks decided to close down Polihale for several months while they assessed the damage and discussed how to prevent this situation from repeating.

“Maintenance, upkeep and enforcement staff are limited due to its remote nature, and staffing in both State Parks and DOCARE (DLNR Division of Conservation And Resources Enforcement) is spread thin, as they have to cover all parks across the island,” Dennison said. “This is why we continually ask people to report illegal, unlawful, dangerous, bad behaviors immediately via the DOCARE hotline, 643-DLNR, or via the free DLNRTip app.”

Soon after the incident last year, the nonprofit Hui Malama Polihale was created to help out with preservation, cleanup and restoration efforts for the Polihale region.

As a community-based hui, members organized to go out several times a month to monitor and clean up sensitive areas.

“Even after the park had been reopened by DLNR with new signage and the restrooms repaired, human feces was once again found in the ancestral burial ground,” Russell said. “Every weekend trash that filled several pickup trucks was also removed (outside of the bins maintained by park staff) and visitors continued to drive through the fragile dune ecosystem.”

There are hundreds of burials in the dunes, and there are several endangered endemic plants that only grow in certain areas of Polihale. Driving near or on the dunes can cause erosion, exposing the bones and destroying this fragile ecosystem.

“Show respect for this beautiful and unique part of our island by not driving through the fragile sand dunes, pack out your trash, and use designated bathroom facilities provided by the park,” Russell said.

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Stephanie Shinno, reporter, can be reached at 245-0424 or sshinno@thegardenisland.com.
Source: The Garden Island

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