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Protecting Hawaii's Heritage, Environment

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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release November 14, 2000

Protecting Hawaii's Heritage, Environment

Today, President Clinton announced new protection for the centuries-old Ala Kahakai trail and cleared the way for the expansion of the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, both located on the Big Island. President Clinton signed S. 700, the Ala Kahakai National Historic Trail Act, and S. 938, the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park Adjustment Act. In doing so, he recognized the leadership of Senators Akaka and Inouye for their work on behalf of this legislation.

Protecting an Historic Hawaiian Treasure The Ala Kahakai National Historic Trail Act designates this 175-mile ancient footpath in Hawaii as a National Historic Trail, and directs the Secretary of the Interior to administer the trail and to encourage communities, adjacent landowners and Native Hawaiians to participate in the trail's maintenance and development.

The Ala Kahakai (Trail by the Sea) trail, which rings the Big Island was the major land route connecting 600 or more communities of the island kingdom of Hawaii from 1400 to 1700. It is associated with many prehistoric and historic housing areas of the island of Hawaii, nearly all the royal centers, and most of the major temples of the island. Its use is also associated with many rulers of the kingdom of Hawaii, and played a significant part in events that affected Hawaiian history and culture, from Captain Cook's landing and subsequent death in 1779 to Kamehameha I's rise to power and consolidation of the Hawaiian Islands under monarchical rule.

Congress established the National Trails Systems in 1968 to provide for recreation, public access, enjoyment, and appreciation of the "open-air, outdoor areas and historic resources of the Nation." The Ala Kahakai National Historic Trail joins the Appalachian, Ice Age, Juan Bautista de Anza, Lewis and Clark, Pony Express, and Trail of Tears national historic trail.

Expanding Hawaii Volcanoes National Park The Hawaii Volcanoes National Park Adjustment Act authorizes the Department of the Interior to acquire land contiguous to the existing park through donation, exchange or purchase with donated or appropriated funds.

The Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, established in 1916, displays the results of 70 million years of volcanism, migration, and evolution processes that thrust a bare land from the sea and clothed it with complex and unique ecosystems and a distinct human culture. The park encompasses diverse environments that range from sea level to the summit of the earth's most massive volcano, Mauna Loa at 13,677 feet. Kilauea, the world's most active volcano, offers scientists insights on the birth of the Hawaiian Islands and visitors views of dramatic volcanic landscapes. Over half of the park is designated wilderness and provides unusual hiking and camping opportunities.

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