Written by Colleen Soares, O‘ahu Group Outings Committee Chair
You wake up early, excited and looking forward to the day. You eat and dress quickly, grab your water and pack, and head for the hills. You’re going hiking, to the top of the Pali! And you’re pumped! You park in a residential area, houses all around. You see a friend, climb out, slam the door, and holler good morning. You’re excited and talking loudly as you walk two blocks to the trailhead, past other houses. It is Saturday, 8 am.
Meanwhile…on the other side of the door… You are deeply asleep when you are awakened sharply by loud music and car doors slamming outside your bedroom window. The clock says 8 am. You are exhausted, and all week, you’ve been looking forward to the one morning you can sleep in. But the music and loud talk and slamming continues. Now, you are fully awake. And angry! You look outside and shake your head. It’s those damn hikers again!
There has been much discussion and complaint about these problems. We are talking about common sense and courtesy from trail users. But we’re human, and we forget, especially in the exuberance of an early morning excursion with friends. Trail users want access to trails, safety and parking. We need parking areas at Kuliouou, and at Maunawili, Manana and other state Na Ala Hele trails that don’t have anything but street parking. More and more people are taking to the trails, and parking has become the major problem. Additionally, busloads of tourists are ferried to trailheads, and we hope they are reminded often that people live nearby.
The Department of Land and Natural Resources receives the brunt of complaints. Hikers talk loudly, slam car doors, obstruct driveways, use water hoses in residents’ yards, and track mud across lawns and cement. DLNR will soon install a few signs to remind us to be more considerate, but they will be at the trailhead, after the noise damage is done. DLNR cannot do the whole job. They have mountains of work to do to keep our parks and trails safe.
DLNR has huge responsibilities and needs a bigger share of state funds in order to protect and conserve our natural resources. “DLNR is responsible for 1.3 million acres of state land, 3 million acres of state ocean waters, 2 million acres of conservation district lands, our drinking water supply, our fisheries, coral reefs, indigenous and endangered flora and fauna, and all of Hawaii‟s historic and cultural sites. And yet, the total operating DLNR budget adds up to less than 1% of the entire state operating budget and 1.6% of permanent civil service workforce.” Auwe!