Na Pali Needs Help

SUBHEAD: When ground cover is destoyed, soil washes to the reefs.  

By Arius Hopman on 15 December 2008 in The Garden Island New

Image above: Summers during flood checking erosion near grasses he planted for flood control.
A big mahalo to reporter Nathan Eagle for researching and shedding much needed light on the Na Pali issue. Important points were made: “With no natural predators, the populations of feral goats and pigs is spiraling out of control...We need more hunters out there, plain and simple. The first step is reducing the number of goats and hogs...Periods of high rain stain the ocean brown. It's all washing away...The people of Kauai are loosing their island , literally. It's a very special place, indeed, it just needs a lot more care.
Soil is the foundation for all terrestrial life. It takes thousands of years to form. When the ground cover is eaten away, the soil washes into the reefs, destroying them as well. This chain of events must be broken. Nathan says: "DLNR officials said yesterday that he [Bill] could have legitimized himself by signing a volunteer waiver and securing the free hinting permits". Great news! This is a potential breakthrough for volunteers who want to be effective as well as legal. Surely it is evident that we all share in the pride for our world famous Kalalau Trail, and we also share in the responsibility for a poorly maintained trail that causes injuries and death. 

When someone like volunteer Bill Summers takes on the task of restoring the trail to safe standards, it is all of our victories. Volunteerism and random acts of kindness are on the rise world-wide as global crises increase. Institutions benefit from accommodating and legitimizing these volunteers. Summers has offered to train volunteers. 

His qualifications: 16 months on the Kalalau Trail, professional stone mason, cliff assault climbers course (Marines) for stringing cables across raging streams. Wilderness survival. First aid training. Basic camp hygiene/field camp sanitation. Professional shoreline restoration with endangered and native species. Rescue training, military and civilian...and all this for only $15000/year can you beat that? 

On top of this he is willing to sign the volunteer waiver. Bill has been mentioned twice this year in the National Geographic Magazine for his dedicated work. He is on web sites ( and blogs. 

See Island Breath: The state of Kalalau Trail. 

Nathan quotes DLNR spokesperson Deborah Ward: "The state parks division is 'under-staffed' and 'under-funded' ". The solution is to let dedicated volunteers take on the slack. Former trail boss for ten years Mack Horie had volunteers working with him, and a volunteer spent a week at Christmas two years ago fixing a dangerous scree slope/mud slide. 

Volunteering is an honorable tradition. Ward continues: "our crew routinely performs trail maintenance, as needed, as they hike from Hanakoa camp ground to Kalalau beach during our monthly off-season maintenance trip". Sound good? 

Let's look at the facts: The crew is dropped off in Hanakoa by helicopter and picked up by helicopter in Kalalau. helicopters cost the tax payer $700/hour plus additional landing fees. Just hiking from Hanakoa to Kalalau with heavy tools takes four hours time of no trail work. That leaves only four hours per person/month of actual trail work, which is not nearly enough to keep up with erosion. Summers spends less than these twelve maintenance outings per year to work the trail for an entire year. He has completed 16 months and spent $18,000 so far, $5,000 of which was donations by thankful hikers. 

The irony is that Bill was doing the trail work that DLNR was supposed to be doing when he was cited for having a bow. The cost of busting him (three helicopter landings) was more than he spends in an entire month of fixing the trail. The helicopter landed on a heliport that Summers had restored for medivac purposes. Please look at the two photos of the most dangerous portion of the trail after the recent winter storm, when nobody is there to maintain the trail.

Trail at Terminal Traverse after one winter storm without maintenance 

Kauai is home to the densest concentration of endangered species in all of the USA. These Hawaiian species are our responsibility, our kuliana. They are especially vulnerable to invasive feral animals. We cannot let budget constraints lead to species extinction. In fact, the anemic budget is a call for DLNR to actively seek out volunteers. We are all encouraging Bill Summers to continue his life-and-limb-saving work on the trail. 

1 comment :

Gordon Nall said...

"Bill's Place" at 8 mile was a little bit of paradise, where we could just relax and feel at peace. The thought of telling Bill he should leave is just backwards, he cares for & loves the place. Thx for the coffee Bill, hope to see you next time I'm there.
-- Gordon & Tara from San Diego

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