North Kohala, Hawai’i Island – Today, HILT and the Ala Kahakai Trail Association (ATA) in cooperation with several other partners, permanently protected the Kaiholena South parcel, with a HILT Conservation Easement, comprised of more than 35 acres of coastline along the North Kohala Coast. The name “Kaiholena” evokes the sea (kai) and lena (to stretch or bend). This name perfectly describes the protected parcel which bends out into the ocean a short distance south of Lapakahi State Historical Park. The property was just purchased by the Ala Kahakai Trail Association which immediately sold a perpetual Conservation Easement on the entire parcel to HILT. The addition of the Kaiholena South parcel to the previously protected lands along the coast there results in almost 10 miles of protected coastline.
In completing the funding required for this project, HILT joined many community partners who realized the importance of this parcel and contributed to see that Kaiholena South was protected forever. Contributors to this project included the following: Hawaii State Legacy Land, $1,449,555; Freeman Foundation $89,000; Dorrance Family Foundation, $50,000; Atherton Foundation, $15,000; Gail Baber-Byrne who donated hundreds of hours to see this project through; Alan Brown and Aric Arakaki of ATA, and many other foundations, private individuals and other non-profit groups. The owners of the tract, EWM, Enterprises, LP, represented by Charlie Anderson of Hawaii Pacific Brokers, were extremely generous and donated $497,000 in land value by discounting the purchase price below fair market value. The community of North Kohala and the surrounding area are very supportive of this project and have already committed to helping steward the property in perpetuity. They have received a stewardship grant from the .25% fund of Hawai’i County that is specific for the stewarding and management of protected lands, and they will use those funds for the management needs of the parcel. In addition to the partners listed above, HILT expresses deep appreciation to David Penn and Jason Omick of DNLR who worked extremely hard to see that this project was completed at the State level.
The Kaiholena ahupuaʻa is still one of the most important areas on Hawai’i Island – a place where, in 1848 – the time of the Great Mahele, Chief Kamakahonu and Chief Kaopua traded their ancestral lands on Oah’u to secure the rights to Kaiholena. These lands at Kaiholena were the fifth and thirty-fifth registered properties in the Great Mahele documents. The ahupuaʻa of Kaiholena is one of the few whose boundaries extend to the horizon. We know today that Kaiholena was once a thriving community because of the numerous remnants of heiau, massive halau, burial sites, and village complexes that are still visible. Kaiholena has been said to have the most numerous, pre-contact intact cultural and archaeological sites in the state of Hawai’i with over 200 sites that qualify for the National Historic Register to be found there.
The new owner of the Kaiholena South tract, Ala Kahakai Trail Association, describes the trail, which runs across part of the parcel, in their management plan as follows: “The Ala Kahakai National Historic Trail reflects a Hawaiian concept of trails as a network connecting places of importance to Native Hawaiian people. It consists of a linear shoreline or near shoreline trail, and on public lands, includes other ancient and historic trails lateral to the shoreline. It may be connected to mauka-makai trails within the Ala Kahakai National Historic Trail corridor that traditionally would have been part of the ahupuaʻa system. The management plan anticipates that the Ala Kahakai Trail Association (ATA) and other organizations will function as partners with the Park in community-based protection of cultural sites and landscapes to be used as a setting for cultural conservation through the on-site practice and preservation of Hawaiian values. The purpose of the protection program is to support cultural conservation efforts and to enhance the trail’s relationship to the Native Hawaiian culture, descendants of those whose ancestors were the stewards of the trail’s cultural and natural landscapes, and others with kinship connections to the land.”
The permanent protection of the 35-acre parcel was realized through the purchase of a Conservation Easement by HILT through a generous grant from the Freeman Foundation. A Conservation Easement is a voluntary perpetual legal agreement between a landowner and a qualified conservation organization, such as HILT, that permanently restricts certain activities on the land, and extinguishes development rights, so as to protect the land’s conservation values (wildlife habitat, scenic vistas, agricultural resources, cultural and historical values, outdoor education and recreation opportunities, water resources, etc.). The Conservation Easement runs with the title of the land so that all future owners must also abide by it. Staff from HILT will visit the property at least annually to be sure that all the terms of the Conservation Easement are being followed.
“On behalf of the Hawaiian Islands Land Trust, I want to thank all the partners that made possible the long-anticipated protection of the Kaiholena South parcel. With the protection of this property, almost 10 miles of this part of the North Kohala coast have been secured for the benefit of current and future generations. I also want to give a special thanks to the Freeman Foundation and our Acquisitions Specialist/Hawai’i Island Director, Janet Britt, for their help with this project,” said Scott Fisher, HILT Executive Director.
About Hawaiian Islands Land Trust: Hawaiian Islands Land Trust (“HILT”) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization formed in 2011 out of the merger of four local land trusts, and it is the first and only nationally accredited local land trust in Hawai‘i. Our mission is to protect the lands that will sustain us for current and future generations. HILT has conserved over 17,500 acres to date, via perpetual Conservation Easements and Fee Simple Ownership, on a number of properties with various conservation values important to residents and visitors alike. We conserve lands that secure Hawai‘i’s long-term well-being, lands with scenic views, agricultural resources, wildlife habitats, water resource areas, cultural and historical sites, and outdoor recreation opportunities.