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Diverse species thrive in huge park expansion

Words by Smiley Team

The US is known for its national parks. Massive places of preserved nature like Zion, the Grand Tetons, the Everglades, and 420 more spread across the United States. 

One such park, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, just received a large expansion in the form of a 26-square-mile expanse of beach named Pohue Bay. Trust for Public Land, a national nonprofit land preservation group transferred its ownership of Pohue Bay and surrounding land to the National Park Service.

The land is home to a diverse set of species like the endangered hawksbill sea turtles, green sea turtles, endangered Hawaiian monk seals, and other species found only in Hawaii. The area also houses anchialine ponds which are landlocked pools with a mix of fresh and salt water where rare Hawaiian red shrimp called ʻōpaeʻula live.

Pohue Bay is also culturally significant to Native Hawaiians because it has remains of ancient Hawaiian villages, petroglyphs, burial sites, and the largest known abrader tool quarry in the state, according to the Trust for Public Lands. Abraders are ancient tools used for crafting, sanding, grinding, and smoothing. 

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“Pōhue is an incredibly precious and culturally significant landscape that needs to be protected," said Hawaii Volcanoes National Park Superintendent Rhonda Loh. "We are actively seeking community feedback to get a better understanding of the natural and cultural resources in the area.

“The park is working to develop an interim operating plan for Pōhue that explores opportunities for public use compatible with resource protection.”

The land was first purchased by the Trust for Public Land for more than $9.4 million, according to the NPS, and then transferred to the park. This was after a few proposals for resorts in the area, the Associated Press reported

Volcanoes National Park proper is home to the world's largest and most active volcanoes, Mauna Loa and Kilauea, and much of the surrounding area is made up of land formed from ancient lava flows. Pohue Bay is a bit of a respite from the volcanic earth.

The area will remain closed to the public until the NPS decides what it wants to do with it and national park staff consult with local experts and residents to better understand the various cultural sites.

“We are grateful the National Park Service will steward the area, ensuring the history, culture and natural beauty of this place are protected for future generations,” Trust for Public Land Associate Vice President Lea Hong, who leads the Hawaii division of the organization, said in a statement.

Inspired to Act?

DONATE: Donate to the Trust for Public Land if you support their work.

SUPPORT: “Leave nothing but footprints” is a common saying at national and state parks, so maintain that mindset. Go to parks and support them but also keep them clean, and respect the nature there.


This article aligns with the following UN SDGs

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