Haleakala National Park plan moves forward

WAILUKU, Maui (AP) — Haleakala National Park is implementing a plan to cut back on the number of commercial visitors that aims to ensure preservation of the resources at the park, Maui’s most popular attraction.

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WAILUKU, Maui (AP) — Haleakala National Park is implementing a plan to cut back on the number of commercial visitors that aims to ensure preservation of the resources at the park, Maui’s most popular attraction.

The plan also seeks to ensure high-quality experiences in the next 10 to 15 years.

The plan was one of four options being considered.

Under the plan, commercial bicycle tours will continue to be prohibited. Other offerings, including horseback riding and astronomy tours, will be limited. So will road-based tours. Motor coaches will be prohibited and no new commercial services will be provided.

The National Park Service last month made a finding of no significant impact for the plan and accompanying environmental assessment.

Competitive processes for service providers will be developed during the next year for horseback, astronomy, hiking and road-based offerings.

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“The resulting crowding and congestion have contributed to adverse impacts to visitor experience into the park’s natural and cultural resources,” a 2012 draft plan states. “Crowding and inappropriate behavior have contributed to a loss of ‘sense of place,’ which is often the initial reason visitors come to the park, interference with traditional cultural uses, and increased negative perceptions of the park by Native Hawaiians…”

Under the plan, commercial tours will be prohibited at the park as many as five days out of the year. That rule would allow opportunities for Native Hawaiians to conduct cultural practices without interruption from commercial enterprises.

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