Entire Ka Iwi Coast Finally Protected
Ka Iwi Coast Mauka Lands – a culturally important and spectacular scenic coastline located in east O‘ahu that has been threatened with development for decades – will be preserved in perpetuity in its natural state. The announcement, made today by the City and County of Honolulu, State of Hawai‘i, Ka Iwi Coalition, Livable Hawai‘i Kai Hui and The Trust for Public Land, ends a 40-year-long struggle to protect this beloved landscape.
The Ka Iwi Coast holds special meaning for many individuals, including former U.S. President Barack Obama, whose mothers’ ashes are scattered beneath the sea cliffs at Lāna‘i Lookout and who grew up body-surfing at the famed Sandy Beach. Canoe paddlers, fishermen and boaters use the scenic coastline as a key navigational landmark indicating the Ka Iwi channel between Oʻahu and Molokaʻi. For Native Hawaiians, Ka Iwi Coast is part of their genealogy – the first place on O‘ahu where the volcano goddess Pele struck her legendary digging stick looking for a fiery home and a place steeped in ancient stories and once dotted with fishing villages. Every day, thousands of residents and visitors hike, swim, surf or paddle along this stunning natural coastline that is one of the defining landscapes of Hawai‘i.
“Generations of O‘ahu residents have fought tirelessly to ensure the protection of this staggeringly-beautiful coastline and we’re honored to announce the community’s dream has finally come true,” said Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell.
“This coastline – so rich in natural beauty and cultural sites and loved by all for surfing, fishing, hiking and scenic drives – is now protected forever,” said State of Hawai‘i Department of Land and Natural Resources Chairperson Suzanne Case.
On March 31, The Trust for Public Land conveyed the remaining two parcels totaling 182 acres of east O ʻ ahu coastline to the community through nonprofit Livable Hawai‘i Kai Hui, which now owns and will steward the land. The State Department of Land and Natural Resources has imposed protective deed restrictions and the City and The Trust for Public Land will co-hold a conservation easement over the properties ensuring the land will never be threatened with development again. Over the years, developers have proposed building resorts, luxury residential subdivisions, vacation cabin rentals and a private club on the land.
Livable Hawai‘i Kai Hui and The Trust for Public Land have been working together since 2012 on a voluntary land conservation strategy to protect these last two privately owned parcels along the Ka Iwi coast. They jointly applied for state and city funding in 2014 to raise funds for the purchase and protection of these last two mauka parcels. One year ago, The Trust for Public Land bought the property from a liquidated development firm for $3.65 million, financing its interim purchase through low-interest loans to meet the landowner’s firm closing deadline and compete with other back-up development offers. Funding for the purchase by Livable Hawai‘i Kai Hui was provided by the City Clean Water and Natural Lands Program, $2.5 million; the State Legacy Land Conservation Program, $1 million; and private donations.
“I am so proud to be part of a national organization like The Trust for Public Land that has the capacity and expertise to make historic conservation efforts like this one happen,” shared The Trust for Public Land’s Advisory Board Member Carol Wilcox. “As paddlers and east Honolulu residents, my husband, myself, our children and grandchildren all care deeply about this beloved cultural landscape and coastline. To have played a part in such an inclusive community effort has been truly inspiring.”
Led by Ka Iwi Coalition, Livable Hawai‘i Kai Hui and The Trust for Public Land, the purchase and protection of the land would not have been possible without the grassroots advocacy by thousands of individuals. During the summer of 2015, the communities of east O‘ahu, including local businesses and many generous individuals from across Hawai‘i and the nation, rallied together in a historic show of aloha by raising over $600,000 from $1,600+ individual donors in under four months. The private funds raised supported the purchase and future care of the land.
The fundraising campaign culminated in a spirited event attended by hundreds and organized in three weeks by five humble Waimānalo families that form the group Nā Kuaʻāina o Waimānalo. “We heard and felt the need to answer the kāhea, the call, to protect the highlands of Awāwamalu from the ever-encroaching arm of development. We banded together with the many conscientious in the community and were successful. Now and forever, this ʻāina in Waimānalo will be here for the countless to enjoy,” said Kari and Kalani Kalima of Nā Kuaʻāina o Waimānalo.
“Over a decade has passed since Save Sandy Beach asked Livable Hawai‘i Kai Hui to continue their work protecting this area. We were honored then and have taken their legacy seriously. The community is grateful for the partnership with the State of Hawai‘i, the City and The Trust for Public Land in helping the community achieve its vision. We will remain vigilant in keeping the Ka Iwi coast in its wild and natural state,” said Elizabeth Reilly of Livable Hawai‘i Kai Hui.
More info at kaiwicoast.org