Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park Is Expanding by 16,000 Acres

More land will be protected within the park's borders.

The Trust for Public Land has transferred the ownership of Pōhue Bay to the National Park Service, making the 16,451 acres of land now part of Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park. The area of land will now be cared for and protected by the NPS.

"Aloha 'āina begins with our commitment to preserving our islands’ precious natural and cultural systems,” Lea Hong, associate vice president and Hawaiian Islands state director at the Trust for Public Land, said

in a press release shared by the NPS. "We are grateful the National Park Service will steward the area with the support of the community, ensuring the history, culture and natural beauty of this place are protected for future generations."

The land extends from the Māmalahoa Highway, also known as the Hawai'i Belt Road, all the way to the shoreline in the southern part of the Big Island. In addition to transferring Pōhue Bay and the surrounding land to NPS, the Trust for Public Land also donated $800,000 to Friends of Volcanoes National Park. The money will be used to care for Pōhue Bay.

In recent years, there was discussion about developing resorts on the land surrounding Pōhue Bay but members of the community rejected that suggestion. Now that it is under management by NPS, the cultural sites and federally protected wildlife in the area will be conserved and maintained within the park system.

"Pōhue is an incredibly precious and culturally significant landscape that needs to be protected. We are actively seeking community feedback to get a better understanding of the natural and cultural resources in the area," Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park Superintendent Rhonda Loh said in the release.

The area will be closed to the public until plans to ensure the protection of the 16,451 acres and everything on it are finalized.

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Opheli Garcia Lawler is a Staff Writer on the News team at Thrillist. Follow her on Twitter @opheligarcia and Instagram @opheligarcia.