Hawaii Chef Peter Merriman
It takes people with a vision and passion for Hawai‘i, to help Hawaiian Islands Land Trust fulfill its promise of perpetuity. HILT created a society to recognize donors who have the vision and passion to ensure that future generations will benefit from our mission to protect the lands that sustain us. The ‘Āina Ho‘oilina Society (literally Legacy Land Society), is a distinguished group of loyal supporters who have included HILT in their will.
The latest member of the ‘Āina Ho‘oilina Society is no stranger to philanthropy. Donna Howard spent her career working as a fundraising executive working primarily in higher education in California and Hawai‘i. Currently, she’s a freelance consultant and Advisory Board member for HILT. Donna notified us of her intentions to remember HILT in her will after a meeting with Clyde Sakamoto (HILT Board member and ‘Āina Ho‘oilina Society Member) who invited her to join. We asked Donna to share about her motivation. “When Clyde asked me to make a planned gift to HILT, I couldn’t say no. The conservation work HILT does is important to me. Additionally, I recently heard a quote by Wendell Berry that resonates with me ‘we don’t inherit the earth from our ancestors we borrow it from our grandchildren.’ This gift is a simple way to pay it forward.”
“Making a planned gift is easy to do. I would encourage everyone to take a look at their will and see if there’s room to leave a legacy gift to HILT. There are so many options including simple bequests, life insurance gifts, and retirement plan gifts. And none of it costs me a thing today.”
Legacy gifts are vital to the perpetual stewardship of the thousands of conservation acres we monitor and maintain each year. By remembering HILT in your will, you help to ensure that future generations will benefit from HILT’s mission to protect the special places that sustain us.
If you are interested in learning more about remembering HILT in your will, click here to learn more. If you already have named Hawaiian Islands Land Trust in your will, please email us at email@example.com.
Pala ka hala, ‘ula ka ai
When the hala ripens, the neck is brightened by them
People are very fond of hala lei. From the name chant of Kuali‘i
‘Ōlelo No‘eau Hawaiian Proverbs and Poetical Sayings
By Mary Kawena Pukui
We started our habitat restoration work at the Waihe‘e Coastal Dunes & Wetlands Refuge in 2005. For the majority of the area we're transforming nearly 100% non-native and invasive species to native vegetation; primarily to support the Hawaii-endemic wetland birds as well as a variety of migratory birds that also use the area. We've had wonderful success in the wetlands and along the coastline where the environment is best suited for plants that are adapted to the unique conditions of flooding and the ehu kai which blankets everything nearshore with salt.
We've also conducted restoration activities in areas surrounding the wetlands and further back along the shoreline. These areas have proved more difficult to keep in native vegetation. Our biggest challenge in these dryer areas have been the vines and the Asystasia gangetica. The asystasia is a violet or white flowered herbaceous plant which will climb and smother our native plantings. The asystasia has proven very difficult to eradicate due to its habit of intertwining with other vegetation along with its penchant when being hand weeded to break easily leaving the rooting nodes in place to grow again. For years we've been trying to keep this plant from suffocating our plantings such as naupaka and a'ali'i.
In some areas where the asystasia has gained domination we noticed one plant which seemed to grow beyond the tangle of stems: Pandanus tectorius, more commonly known as hala. The features of hala's growth lend itself well to escaping the tenacious asystasia. The hala's leaves, growing directly from its trunk, fall away to the ground taking anything that might be clinging on. Once the hala reaches up beyond the mesh of asystasia it is free to shade out its former competitor and drop its own thick and sturdy leaves to cover the herb.
Due to this observation we have this past year begun a large push to plant out about 1,400 hala into areas where the asystasia dominates. By pushing out these masses of asystasia we should be reducing the amount of seed generated and slow the spread where the asystsia does not fair quite so well against its competition and we are capable, therefore, of controlling it.
Through this process we are learning to adapt our strategies as our restoration projects mature and face new challenges. Our restoration activities, like the hala, are shedding the early stages enabling us to reach up to a bright future leaving behind what weighed it down.
By James Crowe
A little more than a thousand years ago, when the first people arrived in these islands from Southern Polynesia, they were met with an incredible diversity of bird species. From stilt owls, to crows, harriers, hawks, rails, large flightless ducks, and several species of geese, the diversity of birds across Hawai’i would have truly amazed anyone. The sub-fossil skeletal remains of at least 109 terrestrial bird species, and at least two dozen seabird species, have been found across the archipelago, a silent testament to that diversity.
Only 16 of those terrestrial bird species remain today, while the seabirds, which perhaps once numbered in the millions, barely cling to life on the high islands of Hawai’i. Predation by rats, as well as dogs, mongoose, cats and several bird species, as well as diseases and habitat modification have taken a heavy toll on both the diversity of species, and the numbers of individual birds that once thrived here. Birds play a critical role in the nutrient cycle of geologically young islands like Hawai’i, and their reduction and disappearance has, and will have, impacts on these islands in ways that may not be apparent for generations to come.
Fortunately, many bird species respond well to simple changes in the quality of their habitat. A case in point is HILT’s 2-acre Hawea Point conservation easement near Kapalua. Around 2001 a local fisherman, Isao Nakagawa, noticed a pair of ‘Ua’u kani (Wedge-tailed shearwater), a seabird with a preference for lower elevations around one of his favorite fishing spots. Further investigation revealed 2 breeding pair (4 individuals). Isao simply took an interest, asking people to leash their dogs, ensuring that hikers avoided crushing their burrows, and doing what he could to improve their habitat. Sadly, Isao passed away late in 2016, but his dedication and determination to restore these vital seabirds to Maui has resulted in over a thousand ‘Ua’u kani thriving at Hawea Point. I was fortunate to have spent time with Isao, and to see how intimately he understood these birds. On one banding expedition, Isao called out to these birds in their distinctive ‘crying baby’ wail, and within minutes he was surrounded by four birds. It was enlightening, to say the least.
If you have ever doubted what one lone individual can do, I invite you to sit quietly around dusk at Hawea Point and watch the birds swirl around your head. To those who love seabirds, and are committed to seeing the restoration of the ecological health of our island home, watching this evening ritual that has taken place on this island for thousands, and more likely hundreds of thousands of years, is a sublime experience. Astonishingly, the November, 2017 banding of `Ua`u kani chicks found over 330 chicks and 1,500 burrows. It is safe to say that the number of `Ua`u kani at Hawea Point now numbers between 3,000 and 5,000 individuals. Small efforts pay off in meaningful ways when it comes to healing the `aina.
This reality came home to us at Waihe’e and Nu’u this year as we conducted our annual bird count. With eight adults, we counted more Ae`o (Hawaiian stilts) this year, than in any previous year since we began our ecological restoration efforts at Nu’u in 2009. The health of the wetland has improved remarkably as the fence around the wetlands prevents feral pigs from creating wallows and preying on the chicks of these endangered waterbirds.
Waihe`e was even more impressive. My colleague James Crowe counted not only 14 Ae’o in the Waihe’e wetlands, but for only the second time in 14 years, Northern Pintail, a species once abundant in Waihe’e in the early to mid-20th century (and very likely well before that). Again on Friday, February 9, during one of our frequent public excursions at the Waihe’e Refuge, a flock of 24 Northern Pintail circled overhead and landed in the wetlands. Ola i ka wai; ola i ka `aina malama. There is life in the water; there is life in land well cared for.
Our future is tied to the land, whether we choose to admit it or not. The need for clean air and water are obvious. It’s the subtle things, such as the relationships we create with the species we share this planet with, that reveal our culture, and which determine whether we shape an abundant, resilient and sustainable society.
By Scott Fisher PhD.
"Message from the Land" - January 2018
Land Acquisition and Protection:
The Hawaiian Islands Land Trust continued to protect the lands that sustain us here in Hawaii in 2017 with the acquisition of a conservation easement on 150-acres of Kealakekua farm lands on the Honolulu Coffee Company farm and an additional conservation easement on 10-acres of native ohia forest and native bird habitat in the Kona cloud forest of Kaloko.
With these additions to HILT's portfolio of protected lands across Hawaii, the organization has protected over 18,000 acres of Hawaii's special landscapes and their precious natural resources.
Stewardship and Ecological Restoration
HILT staff and volunteers are engaged in the management planning process for Honolua Bay/Lipoa Point with the State Department of Land and Natural Resources, Planning Consultants Hawaii, and community organizations and stakeholders including the Save Honolua Coalition.
HILT staff and dedicated volunteers also continued ecological restoration work at each of the land trusts' five public preserves.
At HILT's Nuu Refuge in Kaupo, Maui, students and volunteers helped to remove invasive plants from over 1,000 linear feet of the Nuu pond. Bird counts this year indicate that the native waterbirds are doing well at this important wetland providing a connecting point between Maui and Hawaii Island.
Thanks to the many dedicated volunteers at the Waihe'e Coastal Dunes and Wetland Refuge, over 550 native plants were put in the ground this past year and many of the native species are thriving including the ko'oloa'ula.
Over 2-tons of trees and shrubs were cleared from the Maunawila cultural preserve, and community leaders began a kilo program to discover and map the celestial alignments at the heiau.
The Kia'i Kahili volunteers continued to conduct beach clean-ups at the beautiful Kahili Beach in Kilauea, Kaua'i.
Collectively, over 2,700 volunteers came out to help restore our public preserves and contributed over 6,600 hours to help malama these precious landscapes. Mahalo nui loa to all of HILT's incredible volunteers!
Outreach and Education
HILT's popular Talk Story on the Land series of educational hikes sharing about the natural and cultural history, and resources of our protected areas continued to engage residents and visitors on each island. The land trust was able to lead 65 hikes and share the importance of land conservation with 895 participants promoting the ethic of malama aina.
HILT was also able to partner with the West Oahu Soil and Water Conservation District, the Division of Forestry and Wildlife and other partners to provide two landowner outreach events to Hawaii landowners interested in learning about the opportunities and benefits of voluntary land conservation programs in Hawai'i.
HILT had the privilege of honoring Sam and Mary Cooke and the Manoa Heritage Center for the 2017 Kahu o Ka Aina Award at the Malama Aina Kakou event at Lanikuhonua, Oahu. Over 250 land conservation supporters came out to help celebrate the protection and perpetuation of Hawaii's unique natural and cultural heritage.
The 16th annual Buy Back the Beach at the Old Lahaina Luau was another incredible event with 348 attendees helping to honor US Senator Brian Schatz as the 2017 Champion of the Land.
We had an awesome gathering at the annual picnic at Waihe'e and were pleased to honor two of HILT's most loyal and dedicated volunteers, Tommy Morris and Tom Huber.
HILT was honored to receive a Preservation Commendation award from the Historic Hawaii Foundation at the 2017 Preservation Honor Awards.
It was also a pleasure to receive the Non-profit Sector Award from the Advocates for Public Interest Law at the 2017 APIL Gala event.
Mahalo nui to everyone who helped make 2017 a great year for land conservation in Hawai'i!