The Alaka‘i Swamp is accessible to the public via the Alaka‘i swamp trail in Koke‘e State Park. Photo by Seana Walsh

With many of Hawai‘i’s most popular trails seeing record numbers of hikers, Hawai‘i Tourism, is providing $530,000 to the state Department of Land and Natural Resources’ Na Ala Hele Trail and Access System, according to DLNR news release.

This is in addition to more than $540,000 HTA has provided for a wide range of DLNR initiatives and programs over the past year for a total of $1,071,390 in support of the HTA strategic strategy of informing and educating local residents and visitors on how to properly approach the environment and to support efforts to restore certain natural and cultural resources around the state.

“Getting this level of funding from Hawai‘i Tourism was an unexpected surprise,” said Mike Millay, the Statewide Program Manager for Na Ala Hele under the DLNR Division of Forestry and Wildlife. “This funding is earmarked for conducting a universal trail assessment of the state’s 128 sanctioned trails which cover 825 miles of recreational trails. This will allow us to gather data on how many people are regularly using specific trails and to identify trail maintenance and improvement issues we need to address for the safety and enjoyment of our wonderful trail system.”

Over the past year, HTA has funded numerous projects associated with the battle against Rapid ʻŌhiʻa Death, including sophisticated aerial mapping of forests across the state and education and information products/projects to help inform people about how not to spread this devastating fungal disease. Hawai‘i Tourism also paid for the final production costs of the Mālama Hawaii public service announcement campaign. A series of seven 30-second PSAs are being shown on incoming flights to Hawai‘i on several air carriers and in more than 27,000 rooms around the state on closed-circuit TV systems.

“HTA has a strong and lasting commitment toward helping protect and preserve the very natural and cultural resources that bring millions of visitors to our shores each year,” said Kalani Ka‘anā‘anā, Hawai‘i Tourism’s Director of Cultural Affairs. “In addition to the trail assessment we’ll be working closely with the Na Ala Hele system on a sign initiative to best inform trail users, as well as to help conduct clearing operations to improve safety conditions.”

DLNR Chair Suzanne Case said the partnership with HTA is invaluable in providing additional resources to address some of the most pressing issues associated with people “loving Hawai‘i to death.”

“We all understand the attraction people from across the globe have to this place we call home. With help from Hawai‘i Tourism and the many other partners DLNR regularly works with, our goal is to not only improve the quality of outdoor experiences for our visitors, but the quality of life for kama‘aina,” Case said.