Half-a-mile outside Waimea town, the County Tourism Office, Business Economic Development office members, Island of Hawai‘i Visitor Bureau, and DMAP Steering Committee member met to tour Waimea State Tree Nursery and Pololū Valley. The Department of Land & Natural Resource (DLNR) management and the Waimea Tree Nursery staff invited the group to visit the nursery’s landscape of trees and shrubs used for forestry management and wildfire prevention and mitigation. Many of the plants the nursery in Waimea propagate are from different species of native plants, some endangered species, and numerous trees for windbreak purposes. The group learned from staff about the wildfire response equipment and heard about some of the difficulties of working with aging equipment that must be hitched on to a truck and towed into location when island fires occur.
The second half of the visit, the ten participants met with the steward program in Pololū Valley. They heard from stewards about how the Kohala community unified and came together to preserve and protect the natural and cultural resources of Pololū and how they will be working together further with DLNR to find solutions to mitigate the high volume of foot traffic into the valley. The group completed their visit hiking into the valley and having lunch together to kilo (observe) the natural setting and to assess the visitor experience in-person.
Hawai‘i Island DMAP manager, noted that with the seed and forestry program, there are opportunities for the visitor industry to partner with the Waimea Tree Nursery to offer high quality, low impact social responsibility visitor seeding and repotting plant programs as part of the visitor and community outreach experience that we hope to implement in partnership. The Nursery can use the support and new funding sources for equipment, why not through the visitor industry. As for Pololū Valley, IHVB continues to support the community by providing DMAP resources for steward salaries until the end of the year. We are grateful to partner with DLNR and thankful to learn more about their operations and all that DLNR does here on the island of Hawai‘i.