The Honolua to Honokohau management plan includes the Makai lands for Honolua and Honokohau Ahupua’a. Mark Deakos took this photo of empty Honolua Bay in September 2020.

WESTMAUI – “Overtourism” may well be one of the most unlikely side effects of COVID-19.

Or not?

It is an inflammatory disease resulting from chronic, deep-seated greed that gnaws at the culture.

Screams of overuse and abuse can be heard in Hawaii Nei from the road to Hana to the beaches of Hanalei.

Unfortunately, the West Side was not spared. Our cherished wilderness along the rugged north coast has been threatened by this ugly scourge; Honolua Bay is under attack.

But it can’t be too late – the Honolua-Honokohau management plan could save the day.

As a contractor for the State Department of Land and Natural Resources and Makai Conservation Stewardship Coordinator for the Pu’u Kukui Watershed, Les Potts is an eyewitness six days a week. Potts is astute when it comes to Honolua Bay and faces north. He described the current situation.

“There are more tourists today than ever before. They are just everywhere. They come down in droves in the morning. If you’re not there at seven, you won’t find a parking space. “Before Covid there were around 1,000 tourists a day, now there are up to 2,000. You park at all the lookout points and walk down to the bay. The police only go out there occasionally to expose cars that are parked in no-parking zones and on bike paths. ”

The over 70-year-old bay surfer veteran is not idle. He has ideas on how to solve problems, such as “Limit the number of people who come down there or build a parking lot and charge tourists for parking.”

Potts has participated in a working group for the past three years, helping to develop the draft Honolua-Honokohau Management Plan (Draft HHMP), a comprehensive proposal that community stakeholders, Honolua and Honokohau ‘ohana and the various departments of the DLNR, were involved in involved. John Summers from Planning Consultants Hawaii is the team facilitator.

In an email to Lahaina News, he wrote: “We recently distributed an expanded copy of the draft HHMP to our political leaders and task force members in West Maui. We are now starting to expand sales. “

The Lahaina News received a copy of the Executive Summary, two pages of the 77-page document.

The community is fortunate enough to be contributing to the HHMP draft and staying one step ahead in the fight against the overtourism phenomenon.

The HHMP is a Makai Land Management Plan for Honolua and Honokohau Ahupua’a.

This valued resource is described as “home to abundant marine life, land plants, wildlife, cultural resources and marine recreation”.

“The nearly four-mile long coastline is one of the last undeveloped areas of its kind on Maui.”

The draft of the HHMP aims to provide a comprehensive strategy for the management of this “aina, localized” “Makai of Honoapiilani Highway and includes Honolua Bay, Kulaokae’e’a (the headland and coastal areas between Līpoa Point and Punalau), Keonehelele’i Beach and parts of Honokōhau Bay.”

The plan has a vision of recommended core strategies for implementation including: 1) building and maintaining management capacity; 2) protection of the sense of place; 3) creating a safer environment; 4) management of human activities; and 5) protection and restoration of cultural resources.

Summer recommended, “Our next steps will make a final presentation (of the draft of the HHMP) available to the public in August / September.”

There will be additional opportunities for public contributions during the environmental assessment process, which is expected to begin in winter 2021.

Summers can be reached at [email protected]

Check the Lahaina News for announcements about the dates of the public meetings.