Frequently Asked Questions

What’s the difference between HILT, The Nature Conservancy, and Trust for Public Land?
HILT partners with various conservation organizations in Hawaiʻi such as the Trust for Public Land and The Nature Conservancy. We value those partnerships. However, we are uniquely a local Hawaiʻi non-profit organization, Hawaiʻi’s only statewide land trust. Furthermore, our mission is unique in comparison to other conservation organizations like the Trust for Public Land and The Nature Conservancy. Unlike the Trust for Public Land, which does not typically hold Conservation Easements and Fee Simple interests in conservation lands, HILT does hold Conservation Easements and Fee Simple lands. Thus, in addition to land acquisition, HILT is also involved with the perpetual stewardship of conserved lands. The Nature Conservancy works to primarily conserve important wildlife habitat lands. HILT takes a broader approach to land conservation believing that we need a multitude of protected conservation values to achieve sustainability. Therefore, HILT works to protect important agricultural lands, public outdoor recreation areas, cultural/historical lands, wildlife habitat, water resource areas and stunning scenic vistas.

Is HILT a State Agency?
No. Land Trusts are 501(c)(3) charitable nonprofits. However, we work closely in partnerships with federal, state and local agencies, as well as private landowners and other nonprofits.

Where does HILT get its funding?
We rely on a diverse funding plan that includes memberships, private donations, foundation and agency grants, as well as fundraising events. Our goal is to increase individual donor funding to 75% of annual operating costs over the next five years.

How does HILT choose projects?
Project selection criteria that meet IRS requirements and conform to National Land Trust Alliance standards and practices are utilized during the evaluation of all potential projects. In some instances, landowners will approach the organization with an interest in placing their lands under protection, however we also proactively seek out lands of particularly important conservation values and approach the landowners with protection options. The input of the Island Councils is particularly important in selecting projects.

Can donors restrict their donations to a particular island or project?
Yes. Generally, funds raised will be applied to operations on a statewide, as-needed basis, but specific funding, whether for acquisition or on-the-ground management activities, may be restricted to a particular island or project.

How will HILT ensure the balance of power and priority between islands?
Our guiding philosophy is to be a representative statewide entity working to protect the most important conservation lands regardless of the county in which they are located. Having a balanced board with effective representation from all counties will always be a first priority.

Will stewardship be part of the HILT mission?
Yes. In most cases, stewardship will involve monitoring of landowner activities to ensure the lands are being managed in accordance with conservation easements held on their property. On lands owned in fee by the land trust, stewardship will include active restoration and management of the conservation values being protected.

How will the board be structured?
There will be a statewide board consisting of members from all counties. In addition, each county will have Island Councils consisting of local residents or stakeholders who will help identify projects, connect with constituents, and assist in local events. Merger planning has specified how statewide board members will be recruited from all counties, with no more that 49% of members from any one county or from out-of-state.

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