KOKEE — Easter celebrations in Koke‘e State Park over the weekend left native plants destroyed along a trail that runs behind the Koke‘e Museum.
Known as The Nature Trail, the 100-foot pathway has been cared for by many different groups of volunteers over the years. Plants that were being established along the trail included koa, palapalae and olapa, with custom-made borders around them for protection.
On Easter weekend, three unidentified groups hosted egg hunts and other events along the trail. The result was devastating for the native plants, according to Chris Faye, executive director of Hui o Laka, a nonprofit that operates the Koke‘e Museum.
“I watched them jumping around in there and I was sick to my stomach, but I was manning the museum so I couldn’t just leave the museum and go (save the plants),” Faye said Tuesday.
“I went to the trail today and the edgings and things were knocked off loose and everything. I put them all back.”
Faye noted that the same group of families tried to do a scavenger hunt in her museum, which she told them was not allowed because there are glass cases containing artifacts and the area is too small for that kind of activity. She also noted The Nature Trail isn’t for that type of activity, either.
“It’s nice that people want to use the space and everything, but there are appropriate activities, and there are inappropriate activities, and it’s just the trail is not appropriate for that kind of playing,” Faye said. “(For) a lot of families, this is the only place that they can take their 2-to-5-year-old on a hike.”
Throughout the years, volunteers have put more than $8,000 into managing The Nature Trail. That work included blocking off other trails that crossed the path of The Nature Trail to create an experience featuring Kaua‘i’s native plants. Over Easter weekend, people were using a web of new cross-trails that have been established by people running through The Nature Trail area.
“There were a lot of kids skateboarding and doing all kinds of bicycles and whatnot. We did have a lot of problems before we worked on the trail with a lot of our local kids, taking their bicycles on the trails, and then just coming down the mountain, basically, off-trailing,” Faye said.
Faye and the rest of the volunteers who have put time into maintaining The Nature Trail at Koke‘e ask that people respect the native plants and the trail that’s been meticulously laid out.
“It’s bad enough having to worry about pigs and whatnot, eating them,” Faye said. “But then, here we have people purposely walking through there and destroying things. It’s just not fair to spoil it for other people.”
Stephanie Shinno, education, business and community reporter, can be reached at 245-0424 or firstname.lastname@example.org.