Web and social media tools assist Hawaii’s outdoor explorers

HAWAII — The Department of Land and Natural Resources’ Division of Forestry & Wildlife has redesigned its website and updated social media tools to enable easier access for users on all islands to find out about natural resources and recreation opportunities wherever they are.

They’ve also teamed up with the Outerspatial app, which now offers information about trails and areas managed by DOFAW.

What You Need To Know

  • Download the Outerspatial app from the Apple Store or Google Play or on the DOFAW website
  • Access Oahu Forestry & Wildlife via Instagram and Facebook
  • Access Kauai Forestry & Wildlife via Instagram and Facebook

The Div. of Forestry & Wildlife oversees nearly 1 million acres of public lands across the state, many of which are open to hiking, camping, horseback riding or “off-highway vehicle” use. Depending on the type of activity, a permit may be required. Some areas are also restricted to protect Hawaii’s native species and ecosystems.

The redesigned website allows users to filter information by island. The new structure follows a model first used in 2019 by the Kauai Forest Users web hub, which consolidates access to Kauai-specific information across DOFAW’s programs for trails, hunting, ecosystem protection and management of plants and wildlife, according to a DLNR release. 

Through the website, users can now access the Kauai, Maui Nui, Hawaii Island and Oahu forest users hubs. Each can be accessed from the main page by clicking on the menu option for “Island Hubs.” As a result, kauaiforestusers.com will eventually be phased out.

“Experiencing nature is a very personal thing,” said David Smith, DOFAW administrator. “Like all our conservation work, it’s rooted in place. We want our outreach to reflect that, and to help people learn and care about what is around them.”

Community-focused social media accounts highlighting local opportunities for volunteering, as well as the plants, animals and areas that make each island unique are also being developed by DOFAW. These accounts, including the newly launched Oahu DOFAW and Kauai DOFAW Instagram accounts, complement the statewide and department-wide Hawaii DLNR accounts. Hawaii Island and Maui Nui accounts are currently being discussed.

New online learning tools also allow exploration from home or from the classroom. They include:

“This is also an equity and accessibility issue for us,” explained Smith. “We want to remove some of the barriers people may have to experiencing public resources. Some of our areas are closed to in-person visits in order to protect rare species, and even for our open areas, there are going to be people who don’t have the physical ability or experience to hike to remote places or travel to reserves on different islands. If people can’t be outdoors in person, we’re going to bring some of what makes Hawaii special to them.”