It’s not the Trevi Fountain, folks.
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park staff are asking people to stop throwing trash or money into the steam vents at the popular attraction Wahinekapu, calling it “disrespectful,” according to a social media post from Tuesday.
“Visitors from near and far want to enjoy the beauty and culture of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, not see rubbish littering the park,” the post reads. The steam vents are near the summit of Kilauea and occurs when groundwater gets vaporized by rocks that are heated by the magma deep underground.
“Unfortunately, people have been tossing coins and trash into steam vents in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park for many years,” Jessica Ferracane, spokesperson for Hawaii Volcanoes National Parks, told USA TODAY in an email.
ACCESS FOR EVERY BODY:What national parks can do to make the outdoors more accessible to people with disabilities
She said there’s typically more litter during the busy summer and travel seasons.
Park staff aren’t sure why people toss things into the steam vents but “maybe they think it brings them luck, like a wishing well,” Ferracane said.
AN ‘INCREDIBLE GIFT’: Hawaii Volcanoes National Park receives Big Island’s Pohue Bay
“It actually puts park staff in danger and disrespects Hawaiian culture, in addition to contributing to an unsightly landscape,” she said.
The post points out that Native Hawaiians have long used the steam to “cleans themselves” before cultural protocol at Kilauea Summit. “You wouldn’t dump your trash in a church or on your grandmother’s doorstep,” the post reads.
It’s also dangerous to throw things into the steam vents, according to the post.
“You could inadvertently harm or kill others,” the post reads. “Steam vents are among the most hazardous features in the park. Money is a temptation if it falls within reach. Someone trying to retrieve money could slip and fall into the scalding steam.”
Danger is also posed to park rangers who “risk the possibility of severe burns from the steam” when removing the tossed items.
‘WHAT MAKES HAWAII HAWAII?’: Exploring Hawaiian heritage at Haleakalā National Park
According to the post’s comments, the park did have signs telling people not to litter, but those were stolen.
“Everyone should Leave No Trace when they visit any national park and other public lands, take only pictures and leave only footprints,” Ferracane said.
Informed by the US Forest Service, National Park Service, and Bureau of Land Management, the Leave No Trace principles guide people on how to spend time outdoors while minimizing their impact as much as possible in recognition that ecosystems are fragile. This includes not touching rocks or plants, keeping fires small and not littering.