Pahio operators win two environmental awards

Representatives from Pahio Resorts recently flew to O’ahu for the first annual Hawai’i’s Living Reef Program Awards, held at the Ala Moana Hotel, and came back with two top awards.

The timeshare resort company leaders returned to Kaua’i with two awards, including overall industry division winner and visitor industry award, for their educational and active restoration work on Hawai’i’s coral reefs.

Hawai’i’s Living Reef Program is a statewide public-awareness program created and implemented through the cooperation and dedication of representatives of more than 40 state and federal agencies and non-governmental organizations.

The goal is to build and increase public awareness of the importance of coral reefs to Hawai’i’s way of life.

Lynn McCrory, president and chief operating officer of Pahio Resorts, expressed her surprise and excitement about winning the award.

“I was very excited and pleased. It was such an honor to even be recognized,” she said.

“We were in the room with about 500 people, many from organizations who spend a large part of their time doing these kinds of projects, and Pahio received the top award.”

More than four years ago, in an unprecedented response to Kaua’i’s pressing environmental concerns, Pahio Resorts leaders hired marine biologist Bryan Doo (a Kaua’i native) to help identify and spearhead projects like the award-winning Malama Ke Kai program.

The Malama Ke Kai program not only educates Pahio time-share owners on the best ways to safely enjoy Hawai’i’s delicate marine ecosystem, but also encourages them to actively help preserve Hawai’i’s coral reefs by engaging in fish surveys and alien species identification work.

During the last six years, when Doo was not actively working on programs connected with Pahio, he was subsidized by leaders of the resort timeshare company to assist state Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) officials with their pressing environmental concerns.

Doo could not make the awards ceremony, as he is currently serving as an army officer in Iraq, but is scheduled to return to Kaua’i in February to resume work with Pahio Resorts.

In an e-mail from Iraq, however, Doo commented on the awards. “I was very happy for Pahio Resorts, and for the fact that all the hard work put into the program was recognized by the entire state.

“Pahio deserves all the credit for their efforts to protect what’s left of the coral reefs around Kaua’i,” Doo said.

“I look forward to returning home to my family and friends, and continuing where we left off with the programs.”

Another Pahio Resorts project that was a part of the Hawai’i’s Living Reef Program Award is a limu restoration program on the Eastside of Kaua’i.

The native limu maunuea, which is used in traditional Hawaiian food dishes, was once found in abundance on these reef flats, but has since diminished enormously.

This is an ongoing program done in collaboration with Kaua’i’s DLNR Division of Aquatic Resources officers.

Wade Ishikawa, DLNR’s Division of Aquatic Resources information specialist on Kaua’i, works closely with both Doo and others at Pahio Resorts on their environmental projects.

Ishikawa is also the person responsible for submitting Pahio’s name to the awards committee.

When asked how he liked working with officials from Pahio Resorts, Ishikawa answered, “It’s great to see a private company like Pahio helping with environmental projects, and working with Bryan was a very special experience. He is very good at listening to the community and making things happen.”

When asked why he submitted Pahio’s name for recognition, Ishikawa replied, “I couldn’t think of a better way to thank them for all that they did.”

Pahio Resorts leaders faced stiff competition for these prestigious environmental awards. Some of the other nominees included Outrigger Hotels and Resorts, the U.S. Navy Mobile Diving and Salvage squad, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Pacific Island Fisheries, the Oceanic Institute, and Pacific Whale Foundation.

Despite the number of organizations whose members contributed and were eligible for one of the Hawai’i’s Living Reef Program Awards, there was a noticeable absence of representatives of timeshare resorts or hotels at the award ceremony.

“Winning the awards was great,” McCrory said. “However, more importantly, I hope these awards will enlist others in the tourism industry to participate in environmental programs. Hawai’i will be the beneficiary.”

When asked how long Pahio Resorts will continue to keep supporting and financing environmental programs on Kaua’i, McCrory answered simply, “Indefinitely.”

David Walters, chairman of the board and chief executive officer of Pahio, confirmed McCrory’s statement.

“I grew up in the ’60s, and have been actively involved in the environmental movement since then. For the past 40 years, my companies have practiced policies of ‘think globally and act locally,’ as we believe we are only borrowing this world from future generations,” Walters said.

“We must give this world to our children in better shape than we received it, and we realize that each one of us makes a difference.”

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