The natural environment on either side of the Haiku Stairs is taking a beating. In addition to what nature has in store, torrential rains, high winds, and the stress of too many people is beginning to take a toll. The primary issue is passing, where one group on the Stairs must step aside to let another pass. Plants all along the Stairs have been trampled and worn by people stepping over the rails; some of these plants were uncommon native species. In other places, the reduction in ground cover has allowed erosion to begin, which if allowed to continue over time may threaten the stability of the Stairs themselves. A corresponding problem has resulted from the introduction of aggressive alien plants from seeds clinging to hikers’ boots. This has resulted in an outbreak of numerous invasive plant communities along the Stairs, which threaten the native plants that occur there naturally.

Friends of Haiku Stairs and the Department of Parks and Recreation have begun a program for maintenance of the landscape surrounding Haiku Stairs. The goals of this long-term endeavor are to manage and reduce the impact of alien species, and to stabilize conditions alongside the Stairs. A steering committee for maintenance has been formed, and volunteer work crews are being trained. Maintenance will take place periodically, at least quarterly, to help maintain the area surrounding the Stairs in a condition approximating its natural state.

This is not an easy task. The steep terrain and frequent periods of rainfall make for difficulties in planning work periods; considerations for safety of volunteer workers, protection of native plants, and prevention of further erosion dictate a conservative approach. When we are able to work, we must get a lot done, so we need help. Here is how you can pitch in:

First, volunteer to come out and help. Please register your interest by going to the Home Page, and clicking on the FHS email contact. We will let you know when the next training session or work-day is scheduled.

Second, if you do make use of Haiku Stairs, despite its not being open (keep in mind that you would be trespassing to do so, with attendant potential for harm), please take a couple of protective measures: Clean your boots and clothes of dirt and seeds that may have been picked up on prior hike, OR ON THE TRAIL TO THE BASE OF THE STAIRS. Please, scuff off the bottoms or sides of your boots before going up. Once the Stairs are open, a brush will be installed for that purpose. When you must step aside to let another person pass, please don’t step onto areas that are not now trampled. You can allow others to pass without stepping onto the ground by stepping a leg over the rail and putting the outside foot back onto the edge of the step, keeping one leg on each side of the rail. This is safer, and avoids damaging trail-side plants.

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