3,716-Acre Moanalua Nature Preserve Dedicated (HI)

HONOLULU, HI, 2/20/2008 – The Trust for Public Land (TPL), the State of Hawai’i Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR), and the Kamawaelualani/Kahikilaulani ‘Ohana held a dedication and blessing of Kamana Nui and Kamana Iki Valleys (known as Moanalua Valley) today.

The program, entitled “No Kahikilaulani ka makani Ho’eo ‘o Moanalua” (The whistling wind of Moanalua is Kahikilaulani) references Kahikilaulani, who sailed to the Hawaiian islands from a far away place. It is said that she sailed up a stream into the valley and presented her future husband, Kamawaelualani with a gift of an ‘ohi’a growing from the earth wrapped in a ti leaf. Perched on the ‘ohi’a was a large black honeycreeper, the now extinct O’ahu Creeper (‘o’o).

The 3,716 acre valleys narrowly escaped destruction as a potential corridor for the H-3 freeway, and have been under threat of residential development for two decades. At the blessing and dedication ceremony, the community, descendants of Hawaiians who resided in and cared for the valleys, public officials, the landowner/seller, and non-profit conservation organizations involved in the acquisition and protection of the valleys, will celebrate the dedication of land to the future generations of the people of Hawai’i in perpetuity.

Kumu Roddy Akau from the Kamawaelualani/Kahikilaulani ‘Ohana said, “We are grateful that Kamana Nui and Kamana Iki Valleys have been protected for future generations. Our ‘Ohana have been guardians of this land since time immemorial. We trace our genealogy to Namakahelu Kapahikauaokamehameha, the chantress of this land, and descendant of Kapahikauaokamehameha.” (literal translation: the battle sword of Kamehameha; said to have been a child descended from King Kakuhiewa whom Kamehameha laid his sword next to while resting after the battles of Nu’uanu and Kahuiki in 1795, thus bestowing honor on the child and his family).

Tim Johns, the Chief Operating Officer of the Estate of Samuel Mills Damon, said, “Kamana Nui and Kamana Iki Valleys are one of O’ahu’s natural treasures. We were glad to work with The Trust for Public Land and the State of Hawai’i to ensure future generations will be able to enjoy its resources”

In 2006, TPL and the landowner, the Estate of Samuel Mills Damon, were able to negotiate a purchase agreement for $5.5 million as the Estate planned for its dissolution. Funds for this $5.5 million purchase came from State of Hawai’i’s general funds ($3 million), a Recovery Land Acquisitions grant from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Cooperative Endangered Species Conservation Fund ($1.6 million), and the Department of Defense Army Compatible Use Buffer program ($900,000). The sale closed in March 2007, and TPL immediately transferred the property to the State of Hawai’i.

Senate President Colleen Hanabusa said, “We at the Legislature recognized the importance of protecting this special place for our keiki and future generations. My colleagues were virtually unanimous in their support for setting aside $3 million in State funds to ensure that Kamana Nui and Kamana Iki Valleys were protected.”

Speaker of the House Calvin Say said, “Land banking and preservation are becoming more important as Hawai’i becomes more urbanized. Voluntary conservation projects like this one in which the landowner willingly sells land or its development potential, are a win-win for the landowner and people of Hawai’i. With matching funding from the Army and the USFWS, the State footed only about half of the purchase price. We hope we can do more of these shared conservation projects.”

“Kamana Nui and Kamana Iki Valleys are home to a remarkable array of endangered species, especially considering how close they are to urban Honolulu. O’ahu is Hawai’i’s most populous island, and properties like this are increasingly rare,” said Patrick Leonard, Project Leader for the USFWS Pacific Island Fish and Wildlife Office.

“The Army is proud to have contributed to the protection of such a wonderful cultural and natural resource,” said Colonel Howard Killian, former commander, U.S. Army Garrison, Hawai’i . “We will continue our efforts to work in partnership with the State to preserve important habitat to benefit Hawai’i’s future generations.”

U.S. Senator Daniel Inouye said, “Programs like the Army Compatible Use Buffer Program serve the extremely useful purpose of protecting Hawai’i’s fragile environment while at the same time, making sure that our troops have places to train. I was happy to support the U.S. Army Garrison, Hawai’i’s efforts to obtain adequate funding for this program in Hawai’i.”

U.S. Congressman Neil Abercrombie said, “I am pleased that our office could assist in supporting adequate funding to the Army Compatible Use Buffer Zone Program’s Hawai’i projects. This is a win-win program in which the Army helps to protect Hawai’i’s special natural and cultural resources.”

Kamana Nui and Kamani Iki are the traditional names of the two valleys previously known as Moanalua Valley located within the ahupua’a of Moanalua. The valleys contain five distinct forest types and over nine miles of streams. The native forest provides important habitat for endangered plants and animals, including the ‘Elepaio forest bird (a Hawaiian symbol of canoe making), and is the location of the last sighting of the O’ahu Creeper (‘o’o), now thought to be extinct. The valleys house several culturally important sites, including a famed pohaku (stone) carved with unique petroglyphs found nowhere else in Hawai’i. It also features stone bridges hand-crafted by Italian masons in the late 1800’s.

The valleys will be managed by the State Department of Land and Natural Resources, Division of Forestry and Wildlife (DOFAW) as part of the State Forest Reserve and the Ko’olau Watershed Partnership. The valley will be open to the public for hiking, hunting, cultural resource preservation, and education. The back of the valley will also be managed for wildlife preservation.

“This property will preserve important native habitat, and watershed, as well as offer area residents and visitors an opportunity to leave the city behind and experience nature and cultural history close at hand,” said Laura Thielen, DLNR Chairperson. “This is another successful example of how public-private partnerships can preserve land and natural/cultural resources for future generations.”

“These beautiful valleys are just ten minutes from downtown Honolulu,” said Lea Hong, Hawaiian Islands Program Director for TPL. “The property could not have been protected without the cooperation and partnership of the landowner, the project funders, our public officials, the Kamawaelualani/Kahikilaulani ‘Ohana, and the community. Working together, we can make positive change.”

The TPL Hawai’i office has protected over 36,000 acres in Hawai’i. Last year, TPL worked with government and community partners to protect 1,129 acres at Pupukea-Paumalu on the North Shore of O’ahu. Currently, TPL Hawai’i is working to protect over 3,500 acre Honouliuli Preserve, located at the top of the east Wai’anae Mountain Range above Makakilo and Kunia; providing technical assistance to the County of Hawai’i to protect 550 acres of coastal land in Ka’u; and assisting MA’O Farm in Wai’anae acquire 11 acres of agricultural land.

The Trust For Public Land is a national nonprofit land conservation organization founded in 1972 to conserve land for people. In Hawai’i, TPL works side by side with land trusts, community groups and public agencies to protect lands important to the people of Hawai’i.