Be Pono Outdoors

Be Pono Outdoors

Be Pono Outdoors

Headed outdoors? Our mascot Pono the Nēnē is here to help you engage with natural resources in a responsible way. Whether you’re hiking, camping, viewing wildlife, gathering forest materials, or taking a pet outside, Pono has tips on how you can do the right thing. As Pono says: E mālama kākou i ka ʻāina. Let’s care for the land together.

Jump to: Hike Pono | Play Pono | Mālama Pono | Gather Pono | Be a Pono Pet Parent

After you watch all of our Pono videos, claim a reward at the bottom of this page.

Hike Pono

Hiking trails are how most people explore their public forests and other lands in Hawaiʻi. To be a pono hiker:

  • Only use official trails found on our website or in the Outerspatial app. Unofficial trails are illegal and may harm native species habitat.
  • Clean gear before and after hiking, and use boot brush stations. This helps avoid the spread of invasive seeds or diseases like Rapid ʻŌhiʻa Death.
  • Stay on the trail. Shortcuts harm plants & cause erosion.
  • Keep pets on leashes at all times. This protects your pet, wildlife, and other hikers.

Hike Pono ThumbnailClick to learn about hiking from Pono the Nēnē

Keep your music in headphones rather than playing music out loud on speakers for everyone to hear. Playing loud music on trails is prohibited in Hawaiʻi. Others on the trail may want to enjoy the sounds of nature, and for good reason: hearing birdsong is good for your mental health.

If you are birding, follow our guidelines for Ethical Birding in Hawaiʻi and check out our Hawaiʻi Birding Trails portal to learn which birds you might see on which trails. 

Most trails do not have dedicated parking areas, so remember to be kind to neighbors who live near trailheads. Don’t block their driveways or mailboxes when you park, and don’t use their hoses to wash your muddy boots.

Our forests are cultural spaces, so be respectful. Native Hawaiians consider mauka areas the wao akua (realm of the gods) and some trails may traverse wahi pana (places of special significance). Some trails are ancient and historic trails used by Native Hawaiians and are protected for cultural value and use.

Make sure you hike safely: Know your route before you go and check the description to see if it matches your physical limits. Tell someone your hiking plans and when you expect to return so they can call for help if you don’t return. Take a fully-charged cellphone with you, but be aware you may not have service along the trail. Check the weather before you hike, and take sufficient food, water, sun protection, rain protection, and a first aid kit. Some of our trails go through Public Hunting Areas, so be aware that you may cross paths with hunters and dogs, and consider wearing blaze orange. You can read our Hiking Saftey brochure for more details.

To learn more about Hawaiʻi’s trails and safe hiking, visit our Nā Ala Hele pages.


Play Pono

In Hawaiʻi, 99% of wildfires are caused by humans, sometimes through campfires or holiday activities. To play pono and minimize fire risk:

  • Only have campfires at official campsites that allow campfires. Keep camp and cooking fires in enclosed containers.
  • Have a water source ready to extinguish the fire, and never leave before the coals are cool to the touch. Let Smokey Bear show you how to soak, stir, soak, stir, and feel the coals.
  • Don’t set off fireworks or sparklers, especially near forests or grassy areas. On holidays, go watch a professional fireworks show instead.
  • Keiki can help! Watch our video with Smokey Bear, who says not to play with matches, sparklers, or fireworks. If you see a fire, don’t stall! Call 911.

Play Pono ThumbnailClick to learn about campfire and fireworks safety from Pono the Nēnē

Homeowners can help reduce fire risk to their homes and to others by making their homes Firewise. Click here for tips on Firewise management of your home and yard. To learn more about wildfire in Hawaiʻi and what you can do to minimize fire risk, visit our Wildfire pages.


Mālama Pono

Hawaiʻi’s incredible wildlife species were here before us humans, and we are living in their habitats. To mālama native wildlife:

  • Keep a safe distance from all wildlife. Many of Hawaiʻi’s animals are threatened or endangered, and disturbing them is against the law. Use binoculars, stay on the trail, and don’t get too close when taking photos.
  • Keep wildlife wild: never feed wild animals. It’s illegal, and it can make them sick.
  • Don’t feed feral cats or leave pet food outside. Food placed outside can inadvertently end up in the bellies of native wildlife.

Mālama Pono ThumbnailClick to learn about safe wildlife viewing from Pono the Nēnē

You can help by reporting violations to the DLNRTip app or the DLNR hotline, 643-DLNR. This reporting tool works for violations related to both terrestrial and marine species.

You can also help by reporting downed seabirds that need the care of wildlife experts. To learn more about Hawaiʻi’s amazing wildlife and how you can help, visit our Wildlife pages.


Gather Pono

Hawaiʻi’s public forests are your forests. With a permit, you can responsibly gather fruit, foliage, wood, and other items. To gather pono:

Gather Pono ThumbnailClick to learn about responsible forest gathering from Pono the Nēnē

Permits help us keep track of how heavily different areas of the forest are being used so we can make sure there’s enough for everyone. Permits also help us demonstrate how people use forests and help us shape funding and regulations in the future.

Most personal collection permits are free, depending on the amount being collected. Commercial collection permits are also available. To learn more about Hawaiʻi’s forests and our Forest Reserve System, visit our Forestry pages.


Be a Pono Pet Parent

Pet animals can be a great addition to your home, but they can cause problems for Hawaiʻi’s native species. To be a Pono Pet Parent:

  • Keep your pets inside your house or in an enclosed yard. There are many resources to keep indoor pets happy and safe.
  • If you take a pet with you to the beach or into the forest, it needs to be on a leash. Yes, cats can use leashes!
  • Clean up after your pet with a baggie, and put the baggie directly into the trash or in your backpack to dispose of later. Don’t leave it on the ground or tied to a tree and think “I’ll come back for this later.”

Be a Pono Pet Parent ThumbnailClick to learn about pets and wildlife from Pono the Nēnē

Cat feces can contain parasites that cause toxoplasmosis, a disease that can be fatal to native birds and native monk seals. It can also make humans sick and cause issues with pregnancies. Cat feces should only go in a litter box in your house, and then into the garbage. Learn more about monk seals and toxoplasmosis.

In addition to caring for pets in your home, never feed feral cats. The concept “Trap Neuter Return” or TNR has been shown time and time again to not work as a tool for reducing the feral cat population over time. On the contrary, maintaining a cat colony may signal to people who want to abandon their pet that they can do so and someone else will care for their abandoned cat. Abandoning cats is illegal and punishable by a fine.

We partner on the Pono Pet Parent campaign with local conservation and animal welfare organizations, including NOAA, the Hawaiʻi Veterinary Medical Association (HVMA). To learn more about being a Pono Pet Parent, visit HVMA and take the Pono Pet Parent Pledge.



Did you watch all of our Pono the Nēnē videos? Time to claim your reward and let others know that you’re with Pono!  

We’ll send you a free Pono the Nēnē sticker for your water bottle, or a free bumper sticker letting others know you care for our ʻāina. Just send us an email and let us know which sticker you want. Make sure to include your mailing address.

Our Pono the Nēnē water bottle sticker, 3″ vinyl

Our “E mālama kākou i ka ʻāina” bumper sticker, 8″x3″, vinyl

My Indoor Cat Saves Lives bumper stickerOur “My Indoor Cat Saves Lives” bumper sticker, 8″x3″, vinyl

Cats Indoors Hawaiian Birds Everywhere bumper stickerOur “Cats indoors, Hawaiian birds everywhere” bumper sticker, 8″x3″, vinyl

Our “Let native birds soar” bumper sticker, 8″x3″, vinyl