(Honolulu) – The Legacy Land Conservation Commission has prioritized applications to protect 19,270 acres stretching from the southeast shore at Ka‘ū, Hawai‘i, to Kaua‘i’s north shore, including lands on Maui, Moloka‘i, and O‘ahu. While thirteen properties requiring $15 million were recommended for funding, the existing budget of $6.4 million will fund five of the top ranked properties. The recommendations require approval by the Board of Land and Natural Resources (BLNR) and the Governor:
Kaunāmano (Ala Kahakai Trail Association, with conservation easement held by County of Hawai‘i; full award for Fiscal Year 2020).
Kaunāmano covers five undeveloped parcels of 1,363 acres between Nāʻālehu and Honu‘apo, fronting four miles of Ka‘ū coastline and reaching up to the 600-foot elevation. The entire property is licensed for cattle grazing. This frequently brings people in to help protect sensitive resources and would provide a revenue stream to support future management actions.
Mapulehu (Moloka‘i Land Trust, with conservation easement held by Hawaiian Islands Land Trust; partial award for Fiscal Year 2020).
The property extends across two parcels totaling 1,816 acres, from near the ocean to the summit of East Moloka‘i. The lower parcel holds the platform of ‘Ili‘ili‘ōpae Heiau—a training area for kahuna and a sacrificial heiau. It supported kalo cultivation in lo‘i along Mapulehu Stream and its tributaries. The upper property is largely watershed, disturbed and degraded by the introduction of cattle and other invasive species, where human activity likely included agricultural use at lower elevations, and hunting and gathering of materials for daily use and cultural use.
Maka‘alae Lands (Ke Ao Hali‘i, with conservation easement held by Hawaiian Islands Land Trust; full award for Fiscal Year 2021).
Four parcels of oceanfront pasture land at Hāna, Maui cover about 30 acres of a larger effort to protect and conserve 18 parcels totaling 150 acres. These are prime camping, fishing, and gathering spots for local residents that are also rich in cultural, historical, and natural resource value.
Kiolaka‘a (Ala Kahakai Trail Association, with conservation easement held by County of Hawai‘i; full award for Fiscal Year 2021).
Beginning at Ka‘alu‘alu Bay, a popular camping spot, three parcels of Kiolaka‘a land cover 1,840 acres, stretching over four miles inland to the 700-foot elevation. Local ranchers hold license agreements to graze cattle on portions of this property as well as on adjacent lands that are also slated for conservation with funding from the Legacy Land Conservation Program.
Manaka‘a (Ala Kahakai Trail Association, with conservation easement held by County of Hawai’i; partial award for Fiscal Year 2021).
The 348-acre property is an undeveloped coastal parcel just south of Nā‘ālehu, where Manāka‘a Fishing Village sits on the cliffs overlooking Waikapuna. Local ranchers also hold license agreements to graze cattle on portions of this property, as well as on adjacent lands that are also slated for conservation with funding from the Legacy Land Conservation Program.
The Commission acknowledged the value of the proposed acquisitions by recommending an increase to the program’s Fiscal Year 2021 budget to provide funding for an additional eight properties:
An additional 32+ acres of coastal land at Hāna, Maui (Ke Ao Hali‘i, Mokae Lands);A conservation easement covering 2,780 acres of working forest lands in Kona, Hawaii; (Division of Forestry and Wildlife, Hāloa ʻĀina – Royal Hawaiian Sandalwood);11,000 acres of West Maui watershed lands (Division of Forestry and Wildlife, Nā Wai ‘Ehā);Two fishpond properties (Waipā Foundation at Halele‘a, Kaua‘i and Hawaiian Islands Land Trust at Waikalua Loko I‘a, O‘ahu)Agricultural land at Olohena, Kaua‘i (Mālama Kaua‘i); and Coastal access at Keone‘ō‘i‘o Bay, Maui (Division of Forestry and Wildlife) and coastal ecosystem protection for anchialine pools at Nānu‘alele, Maui.
Despite land use regulations and development in Hawai‘i, lands that hold important resource values are often unprotected, inaccessible, and threatened with damage and destruction.
The State Legislature established the Land Conservation Fund in 2005 to provide permanent adequate funding for land conservation by dedicating proceeds from the real estate conveyance tax to the Fund. The grant application and approval process includes consultation with three State agencies (DLNR, Department of Agriculture, and the Agribusiness Development Corporation). The process also requires field visits and public meetings with the Legacy Land Conservation Commission; consultation with the President of the State Senate and the Speaker of the State House of Representatives; environmental review; before final approval by the BLNR, the Department of Budget and Finance and the Governor.
The application process for grants for Fiscal Year 2022 funds is scheduled to begin in January 2020.