Puuhonua O Honaunau is one of the national parks on the Big Island that isn’t being run due to the government shutdown, however visitors are still coming in. But with park staff off, there’s no one to clean the messes left behind.
A small group decided to clean the park after two weeks of the park closure.
“When we found out that the park department was unable to be able to work on keeping the place clean, we decided that we would take it in our own hands and be I guess, ‘sacred vigilantes,’ and just go there and start cleaning up,” said Randyl Rupar, one of the volunteers.
Last Saturday, Rupar and others went to the park and collected items like paper plates, forks, knives and plastic wrappers. He says they came away with 12 large bags of trash.
“Here in Hawaii, our national parks are extremely valuable to all of us, and when we do not have park rangers and other mentors taking us through the park…what is going to happen?,” said Rupar.
With the government shutdown continuing, other community members are planning additional cleanups to keep the park in good condition, and they say they may plan more if the shutdown continues.
Group Blue Zones Project, is hoping to set up a cleanup this Saturday. They said they started planning as soon as Sunday.
“Normally we spend many months preparing for an event like this one coming up on Saturday, but we decided it was important,” said Kirstin Kahaloa with Blue Zones Project. “I reached out to other community members who were also impassioned to make a difference and make sure that our sacred place like Puuhonua O Honaunau is protected.”
They say they will provide trash pick-up items like gloves and trash bags.
For those interested in joining, you can visit this Facebook page set up for the cleanup.