Sediment coring team at Nuu, Maui
Hawaiian Islands Land Trust is a small organization dedicated to a crucial cause (the graveness of which became clearer the more time I spent here): the conservation of ecologically, culturally, historically, and agriculturally significant places. With limited resources and relatively few staff members, everyone here works very hard to serve the organization’s important mission to “protect the lands that sustain us.”
This summer, I had the opportunity to work as an intern at HILT’s O‘ahu office. Working with several staff members on various projects, I got to see the underbelly of land trust work and discover how HILT operates to fulfill its mission. With the goal of learning a bit about everything, I participated in various projects both in the office and “out in the field.”
HILT’s O‘ahu office is a small, simple, unassuming suite located in an unimposing building in a quiet part of downtown Honolulu. You would never guess from the outside what significant work was being done within. The sincere aesthetic of the HILT office is reflective of the sort of work that HILT does. Unflashy, genuine, straight to the heart of the matter. Working in the office with Kawika, Angie, and Jean, I was able to participate in the fundraising (or “development”) side of things as well as learn about the process of land-acquisition and management. All of this took the form of much reading and writing, a bit of drawing, some database research, some mail-merging and Excel-spreadsheet-making, and lots of envelope-stuffing to boot. It was all very interesting work, and most of it completely new to me. From the first few readings (legal easement documents, management plans, and an archaeological report), I knew just how much learning I would have ahead of me.
As a novelty-seeking intern looking for new knowledge wherever it could be found, I also got to tag along on several out-of-the-office adventures. These included a volunteer day with Hawaiian Airlines at Maunawila Heiau; a site visit of a potential property on O‘ahu; a trip to the airport post office for a bulk-mailing project; a trip to Hau‘ula to build cardboard wa‘a (canoes) with school children and learn about Hawaiian history and language; and finally a weeklong stint at the Hawai‘i Conservation Conference.
Over the course of my time with HILT, I have experienced many new things, and gained many new insights regarding land acquisition and nonprofit development, as well as made a first step into the vast world of Hawaiian culture, language, and history. Perhaps the most important idea I saw put into elegant practice at HILT was the multifaceted nature of places.
So much of what a place is depends on what we make of it. It’s true that land is physical and can be defined by its biotic and abiotic factors, or split into parcels by tax map keys and boundary lines. But places are also defined by the stories we tell about them: how we interact with them in the present, and how we understand their past. Furthermore, subjectivity and differences in background knowledge mean that each person will view and experience a place differently. Put simply, places mean different things to different people.
Take, as an example, Maunawila Heiau, owned and managed by Hawaiian Islands Land Trust since 2014, and located in Hau‘ula on the North Shore of O‘ahu. A real estate agent or government official might describe Maunawila as TMK:  5‐4‐005: 010, a fee-owned 9.08-acre property in an AG-2 (agricultural) zoning district. An archeologist would look at the same land and note the various igneous and coralline alignments and features, searching for artifacts and significant stones. A cultural anthropologist would bring a different perspective, wondering about the mo‘olelo (stories) associated with the place and the practices and rituals observed here. What type of heiau was Maunawila and what did the prophet Makuakaumana have to do with it? A biologist would notice the non-native octopus trees and unbridled hau, and consider what endemic plants and animals might do best in this environment. An educator would wonder “is it safe to bring children here?” and a fundraiser would ask the same about potential donors. A volunteer would see the guinea grass and, wielding a machete, work to clear the area of harmful invasives. A child might see a place of wonder and mystery or steer clear of it, fearing its religious attributes. A practitioner of Hawaiian culture might honor the land as a place of ancestral sacredness, worthy of immense respect. And an intern with HILT would get to learn about all of these perspectives and revel in the marvelous complexity of places and people.
How we understand a place depends on the stories we connect with it. After working at HILT, I have added a new story to my understanding of conserved places. I also have a better grasp and deeper appreciation of the work of conservationists. Protecting our most important lands is a noble aspiration and one that is becoming ever more urgent. At Hawaiian Islands Land Trust, I have had the privilege of seeing a group of dedicated, sincere, and intelligent people working in pursuit of this immensely consequential goal.
By, Susannah Lawhorn
Aloha HILT ‘Ohana,
Here are a few updates and highlights for July 2017:
Our Mālama ʻĀina Kākou, Party for the Land will be held on August 26, 2017 at Lanikūhonua, Oʻahu. HILT will be honoring the Mānoa Heritage Center founded by Sam & Mary Cooke. Tickets are available here: http://www.hilt.org/special-events-calendar/malama-aina-kakou-on-oahu-2017
The Hawaii Island Paina will be held on Friday, November 17, 2017 at Merriman’s Waimea.
The Kauai Island Paina will be held on Thursday, December 14, 2017 at Merriman’s Fish House in Poipu.
Our Annual Buy Back the Beach will be held on Saturday, January 20, 2018 at the Old Lahaina Luau.
HILT Land Steward, James Crowe is the author of our latest HILT blog post “All In The ‘Ohana,” highlighting some of HILT's conservation work at the Waihe‘e Coastal Dunes and Wetland Refuge.
Check it out here: http://www.hilt.org/hawaiian-islands-land-trust/2017/7/18/all-in-the-ohana
Keʻanae Loʻi, Maui
On Friday, July 28, 2017 the Board of Land and Natural Resources approved $210,000 in funding from the State Legacy Land Program for the Keʻanae Loʻi project! HILT will be following up on the matching funding and are excited to protect these 6-acres of traditional taro farms on the iconic Keʻanae peninsula.
We would like to give a special mahalo and acknowledgement to all our Distinguished Nā Koa ʻĀina Fellows:
Pamela and Ed Bello
Hawaii Life Real Estate Brokers
Hawaii Life Charitable Fund
Ann and Allen Jones III
Susan and Jac Kean
Betty M. Leis
Audrey MacLean and Mike Clair
The Makana Aloha Foundation
Katie and Dave Minkus
Peter and Victorine Merriman
Michael D. Moore
Joe and Sharon Saunders
Jill and Doug Schatz
Anne and Larry Stevens
Anthony and Carey Sutton
Ulupono Fund at the Hawaii Community Foundation
Mahalo for all your support in protecting the lands that sustain us!
If you live in hawaii you know this plant, but do you know its cousin?
If you live in Hawaii you’d find it hard to avoid the plant pictured above. It’s at just about any beach you go to, common in manicured landscaping, and is as easy to find in most other islands throughout the tropical Pacific. You’ll even find it in the Atlantic around the Caribbean region; though it’s an invasive there. (Please leave your favored plants in their home territory!)
Now take a look at the plant pictured below and try to recall where you’ve seen it.
Can’t place it? That’s Okay. Most people can’t. There’s a reason for that, of course. This is not the naupaka you stuff your slippers into when you go for a walk on the beach. This is Scaevola coriacea, commonly referred to as either dwarf or creeping naupaka. It’s endemic to Hawaii, meaning its home range is here in Hawaii and nowhere else. Dwarf Naupaka was found on all the major islands here in Hawaii. The key word being “was”. Through loss of habitat the natural population of this Hawaii native has been whittled down to just a bit over 100 scraggly individuals in a single colony on Maui plus a couple of those sacred sanctuaries known as off shore islets.
Some years ago, at HILT’s Waihee Coastal Dunes & Wetlands Refuge on Maui, we attempted to create a duplicate population of those remaining individuals. We planted 194 little starts up on the Waihee Refuge’s sand dunes which are a similar habitat to the remaining natural population. The sand dunes there are impressive, some peaking more than 200 feet above the surrounding wetlands. There is no irrigation there so we hand watered those 194 plantings for several months. We ported backpacks and hand jugs full of water taken from the adjacent Waihee Stream. It was not easy work carrying that water up, up, up the hill of the tall dunes; but the endeavor to perpetuate the natural population was worthwhile.
Several years had passed since that planting and a survey of the population revealed a story of struggle. Only a half dozen of those plantings had survived, and those that had were only slightly larger than when they had been planted. Those dunes are a tough place to eek out an existence.
A little depressing? Yes. But read on; I promise it gets better.
A couple years after that first round of planting we received some more starts. Our restoration efforts at the Waihee Refuge focused on restoring the wetland bird habitat and adjacent surrounding areas of the historic Kapoho village. We removed dozens of acres of invasive vegetation and returned it to a majority of native vegetation species. It’s a beauty to behold.
It was there in the village that we tried that second round of plantings. Can you guess what happened? - I bet you can. - In that place of restoration the dwarf naupaka thrived.
Our mistake in that first round of planting was that we had made the assumption that we should try them in an area that mimicked that last remaining population. We were wrong. Our second round of planting in the village, now thriving with a health beyond where they came from, proved to us that the last remaining natural population does not occupy its choicest habitat but only the harsher vestiges of what was once its home. It was displaced, crowded out, left to eek by at the fringes by our human endeavors and follies.
So there they are, in Kapoho. So there they are, indirect benefactors of a bird habitat restoration effort. So there they are, setting deep roots once more. So there they are, happy.
By James Crowe
Aloha HILT ‘Ohana,
Here are a few HILT updates for June 2017:
Honolulu Coffee Company 2, Kealakekua, Hawaii
The 150-acre conservation easement at Honolulu Coffee’s Kona coffee farm was recorded today! The easement will protect these productive agricultural lands including ohia forests, cultural resources, and habitat for native forest birds in perpetuity. Please see the press release on the project here: http://bit.ly/2sa4Qhe
HILT’s Annual Family Picnic was held on Saturday, June 3rd at Waihee Coastal Dunes & Wetland Refuge. HILT volunteers Tommy Morris and Tom Huber were honored for their service and contributions to HILT and the Waihee Refuge. Mahalo nui Tommy and Tom! Over 250 people attended and enjoyed a great day of live music, entertainment, and family activities. Mahalo nui loa to everyone who contributed to this wonderful event!
HILT completed the first of two Landowner Assistance Workshops with the West Oahu Soil and Water Conservation District and the Department of Natural Resources Division of Forestry and Wildlife on June 3, 2017. The workshop was on the topic of Acquisition and Easements and held up at Palehua Ranch hosted by McD Philpotts. We had a great turn out with landowners and partners in land conservation sharing updates about the various programs and services available. Mahalo nui to Ed Olson and McD Philpotts for hosting this event!
The second workshop will be held on July 22nd at Waimea Valley and is titled Land Management & Technical Assistance. For any landowners interested in attending this workshop, please register here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/oahu-landowner-assistance-workshop-land-mgmt-technical-assistance-tickets-33799866310?aff=erelpanelorg
Volunteer Work Day
Mahalo nui to Hawaiian Airlines Team Kokua for joining us at Maunawila Heiau for a volunteer work day!
HILT Fundraising Events:
HILT will be honoring the Manoa Heritage Center founded by Sam and Mary Cooke at the Malama Aina Kakou Benefit being held on Saturday, August 26th at Lanikuhonua at 5:00 pm.
Here is a link to the press release about the event: http://bit.ly/2thGBRD
The story of the Manoa Heritage Center and the Cooke family’s efforts to protect this wahi pana in Manoa is an awesome one! You can watch a few excellent video’s about the heritage center on their website: http://www.manoaheritagecenter.org/in-the-news-videos
Here is a quick reminder on the dates for our upcoming events on each island:
Hawaii Island Paina: Friday, November 17th at Merriman’s Waimea
For more information: http://www.hilt.org/special-events-calendar/hawaii-island-paina
Kauai Island Paina: Thursday, December 14th at Merriman’s Fish House in Poipu
For more information: http://www.hilt.org/special-events-calendar/kauai-island-paina
Buy Back the Beach: Saturday, January 27th at the Old Lahaina Luau
For more information: http://www.hilt.org/special-events-calendar/2017/3/15/buy-back-the-beach-maui
Na Koa Aina Fellowship:
We’d like to welcome HILT’s latest Na Koa Aina Fellows Dave and Katie Minkus!
Mahalo for all of your support and dedication! Please share HILT's mission about protecting the lands that sustain us with two or three of your friends and family!
For more information or to volunteer, please contact us at email@example.com or http://www.hilt.org/join-us/volunteer/.