Tradition protects natural resources for future

The Maui News
Letter to the Editor
Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Thankfully, the idea of commercial bike tours on the Skyline Trail has been rejected by the state for now. I strongly agree with those who have pointed out that the proposed tours were not a good idea. I hope the author of a June 13 letter will consider that "ownership" of these special places is not as important as treating them with care and respect. I have known Mr. Charles K. Maxwell for many years and have found him to be an advocate of respectful access for many of Maui's special places, rather than calling for non-Hawaiians to be permanently excluded.

In the late 1970s, Mr. Maxwell was among those Hawaiians and non-Hawaiians who marched publicly to county park land in Pauwela, asking that public access to these lands be opened. It was. On the other hand, he was also among those who picketed the commercial T-shirt vendors who set up at Iao State Park when the state had no authority to turn away their tasteless and inappropriate displays. Maxwell and the other picketers made their point, and the vendors moved on while public access remains unimpeded.

I have walked the Skyline Trail in both directions a number of times. Once past the Science City facilities, the trail is mostly a narrow two-mile-long footpath traversing a fragile shifting cinder landscape until it intersects with the wider Kula Forest Reserve Jeep road.

It appears from available descriptions that this trail was part of a route used by ancient Hawaiians to access the crater. Unique native insects and bird life currently make their home in the volcanic landscape bordering the trail. In short, this is a sensitive area that deserves caring, respectful access, rather than commercialization.

It would appear to me, that this is exactly what Mr. Maxwell was appealing for in his original letter on the subject. He asked for present generations to respect this place as it had been respected by past generations of Hawaiians. This is not living in the past. It is ensuring resources for the future.

Lucienne de Naie