Ka Leo O Ka Aina - Iulai 2018

Message from the Land - July 2018

HILT continues to protect the lands that sustain us with a variety of exciting conservation projects on the horizon.


Waikapu, Maui

HILT is working with the Waikapu Country Town project to ensure the permanent protection of 800-acres of Central Maui’s prime agricultural lands currently being cultivated by small diversified farm operations.


Keanae, Maui

HILT has been awarded $210,000 from the State Legacy Land grant program and is in the process of securing the matching funds to protect the largest single property on the Keanae peninsula. The 6-acre property contains over 36 traditional taro loi including loi associated with chief Keanae.


Kilauea, Kauai

HILT is working with the landowners of the popular Wai Koa Loop Trail in Kilauea, Kauai to preserve public access to the scenic trail and destination areas including the historic Stone Dam. This trail easement will be a first for Hawaii!


Waianae, Oahu

HILT is collaborating with The Trust for Public Land and MAO Organic Farms in the acquisition and protection of 21-acres in Waianae to expand MAO’s popular farm and youth leadership program.


 Hilo, Hawaii

The land trust is working with a landowner in Hilo, Hawaii to protect over 800 acres of native ohia and koa forest including habitat for our native forest birds.

Waihee Road with James.jpg

 Waihee Coastal Dunes and Wetlands Refuge Update:

Maui County permits have been approved for the repair work of the roadway at Waihee and repairs will be underway soon! Mahalo nui loa to Thorne Abbott of Coastal Planners, LLC, Goodfellow Brothers, Walker Industries for their support in getting the Waihee roadway repaired!   


Conservation Innovation: Easier Easement Tracking With New Software

The main tool a land trust uses to preserve land is a conservation easement. This is a voluntary legal agreement between a landowner and a land trust or government agency that allows a landowner set aside a parcel of land for conservation purposes – not urbanization – in perpetuity.

HILT works with landowners to protect areas with the highest conservation potential across all of our values - scenic views, agricultural resources, wildlife habitats, water resource areas, cultural and historical values, and outdoor recreation opportunities. As you can imagine, tracking these six values across our 43 conservation easements spanning nearly 18,000 acres requires a lot from our small field team.

There's always paper. Lots and lots of paper, from the signed easement document itself, to the communications, reports, summaries, and negotiations leading to the agreement. Then there’s the annual monitoring, activity approvals, enforcement actions, changes in ownership, and interpretations that follow the agreement. And, over time, these documents would get stuffed into folders and binders sitting on a shelf or locked away in a cabinet.

I often commiserated with stewards from other land trusts, who were facing similar pain points. Many of us had resorted to developing our own small-scale, custom databases when the market did not meet our needs to ensure the highest quality easement oversight.

Enter Landscape, a cloud-based land conservation software that is innovative beyond our individual systems. Now, HILT joins fifty other land trusts in streamlining easement monitoring activities with Landscape’s mapping capabilities, multi-user functionality, and integration with our current contact database and cloud file system. With a name like Landscape and features to match our multiple, varied conservation needs, it figures that the software developer was a former, fellow land trust professional.

The multi-user functionality is one of the most important features of the software. The number of easements we manage is growing and the work is becoming more than a single individual can manage. Tracking all of our projects in a single database will ensure a faster, more accurate and unified reported status of activities across the state.

HILT has already begun migrating to Landscape and hopes to be fully integrated by the year's end. While it may seem like a small tweak to our easement infrastructure, this technology positions HILT to respond to the growing urgency to protect even more lands from urbanization across Hawaii, while shrinking our filing cabinets in the process.

--James Crowe, Land Steward

Conservation tools like Landscape are part of the everyday costs of long-term conservation. Your support for our annual fund helps staff like James access the best possible tools to achieve the mission that we all share – to protect the lands that sustain us. Please consider supporting our everyday conservation activities through an annual gift to HILT.

Hawaiian Islands Land Trust Appoints Courtenay O’Connor as Associate Executive Director of Advancement

Hawaiian Islands Land Trust (“HILT”) announced today that Courtenay O’Connor has been appointed as its new Associate Executive Director of Advancement. O’Connor will be responsible for HILT’s overall fundraising and development program and building a culture of philanthropy for the organization. “We are very pleased to welcome Courtenay to the land trust and are excited to expand our fundraising program to keep up with the demand for our land conservation initiatives here in Hawaii,” said Kawika Burgess, HILT’s Chief Executive Officer.


O’Connor comes to HILT from The Nature Conservancy (TNC) of Hawaii where she served as the Senior Associate Director of Philanthropy. Prior to working at TNC, Courtenay served in various capacities at CCS, LLC an international strategic fundraising firm, where she planned and managed several successful fundraising campaigns. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from the University of Vermont, and a Master of Science in Public Policy and Management from Carnegie Mellon University.


“HILT has done a lot of great work here in Hawaii by working with landowners and conserving over 18,000 acres of Hawaii’s most precious natural and cultural resources. I look forward to the opportunity to grow the organization’s fundraising efforts which will allow the land trust to do even more conservation work,” said O’Connor.

Waihee Road Closure Update

The entrance to the popular Waihee Coastal Dunes and Wetland Refuge from Halewaiu Rd has been closed for some time now. Heavy rains in the fall did some serious damage to the road creating a deep gouge where the road once was.  Unfortunately, this isn’t a new occurrence, as the nature of the area has caused the road to wash out a number of times in the past. Since Waihee is in a shoreline management area, special permitting (called SMA Permits) are required for us to do the repair work. While gathering the necessary data for the permit we found that the flood zoning had changed since we last applied for a permit forcing a delay in submitting the necessary permit information till March of this year.

Thorne Abbott of Coastal Planners, LLC has been diligently helping us with the permit process, Goodfellow Brothers, Inc. has graciously offered to assist with the repair work and several individuals have made very generous donations to buy the materials needed to repair the road. 

As Waihee is a popular recreation area for the Maui community, we receive requests from schools, community groups, educational programs, and youth programs and others for guided hikes on the property regularly. Maui families also camp there on a weekly basis. However, because of our inability to provide emergency access in and out of the Refuge, these programs have been limited.

The permit application is now being reviewed by the county and we are working to receive final approval.  We hope to repair and reopen the road in time for our Annual Waihee Hoolaulea, scheduled for Saturday, September 8th.

In the meantime, we are asking visitors to Waihee to park at the Waiehu Golf Course – who have generously offered parking there – and use caution when crossing the road. The walk in from the road is about ¼ of a mile. We appreciate everyone’s patience and look forward to seeing everyone out on the land again soon!