3,716 Acres Protected at Moanalua Valley
HONOLULU, HI – The Trust for Public Land (TPL) and the State of Hawai’i Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) announced today the permanent protection of one of the last truly open spaces in the urban Honolulu area.
The 3,716 acre valley narrowly escaped destruction as a potential corridor for the H-3 freeway, and has been under threat of residential development for two decades. Today, that threat is gone.
“This beautiful valley is just ten minutes from downtown Honolulu,” said Lea Hong, Hawaiian Islands Program Director for TPL. “We thank the State of Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Estate of Samuel Mills Damon, the U.S. Army Garrison, Hawai’i, the State Legislature, and our federal Congressional delegation, for their partnership and hard work in protecting this tremendous resource for the public.”
Tim Johns, the Chief Operating Officer of the Estate of Samuel Mills Damon, said, “Moanalua Valley is one of Oahu’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”
Funds for this $5.5 million purchase came from State of Hawai’i general funds,a Recovery Land Acquisitions Grant from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Cooperative Endangered Species Conservation Fund, and the Department of Defense Army Compatible Use Buffer Program.
“The Army is proud to have contributed to the protection of such a wonderful cultural and natural resource,” said Colonel Howard Killian, 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.”
Moanalua Valley contains 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, now thought to be extinct. The Valley houses several culturally important sites, including a famed pohaku (stone) carved with unique petroglyphs of winged warriors. It also features stone bridges hand-crafted by Italian masons in the late 1800’s.
Moanalua Valley will be managed by the State Department of Land and Natural Resources, Division of Forestry and Wildlife (DOFAW). DOFAW will add the valley to the State Forest Reserve and the Ko’olau Watershed Partnership. The?land 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 Peter Young, DLNR Chairperson.
Senator Russell S. Kokubun, Chair of the Senate Water, Land, Agriculture and Hawaiian Affairs Committee 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 the Valley was protected.”
“Moanalua Valley is home to a remarkable array of endangered species, especially considering how close it is to urban Honolulu. Oahu is Hawaii’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.
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.”
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.