Officials moving forward on South Point management plan

HILO, Hawaii — With a survey finding no significant environmental impact, the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands is moving ahead to find money to fund a resource management plan for a cultural site and popular tourist attraction on the Big Island.

South Point is believed to be the site where ancient Polynesians from the Marquesas Islands first landed in A.D. 124 on what would later be called the Hawaiian Islands, West Hawaii Today reported .

Today, it’s a tourism draw known for its green sand beach and jumping-off point for people interested in high-diving off the cliffs.

However, off-road vehicles have destroyed cultural sites and eroded soil and sand.

A recently published environmental assessment report conducted by the department’s consultant Townscape Inc. found that the majority of the 300 cars counted on two sample days last June were not local.

Residents have been requesting the project for three decades.

“The majority of informants supported closing down the road to South Point to allow the land to heal,” concludes the environmental assessment report published June 8.

The department’s plan would add an entrance gate and security booth. The department also plans to create parking spaces, sanitary amenities, a pedestrian path, emergency access road and a cultural interpretative walking trail with signage and protective barriers around cultural sites.

A parking fee will be instituted to help cover costs.

The department has not said when it plans to start on the work.

“All is dependent upon sufficient funding for this plan,” said Paula Aila, the department’s spokeswoman, in an email response Thursday. “The gate is a portion of all the steps that will need to be taken into consideration.”

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Information from: West Hawaii Today, http://www.westhawaiitoday.com

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