Historic Honu’apo Coastal Area Protected (HI)

HONOLULU, HI, 3/31/2006: The Trust for Public Land (TPL), the State of Hawai’i, and the County of Hawai’i announced today a successful end to the long community effort to save the 225-acre Honu’apo Fishpond , which has been transferred into permanent public ownership. TPL stepped in to purchase and hold the property in December of last year in order to keep it off of the private market and allow the State and County the time required to get funding approved.

“This is a wonderful day for Ka’? and a wonderful day for conservation on the Island of Hawai’i,” said TPL-Hawai’i Director Tily Shue. “It has been an honor to work with this community and very responsive County and State governements that together made this success happen.”

The nonprofit Trust for Public Land lauded Senators Inouye and Akaka, as well as Congressman Case for securing federal National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration coastal preservation funding that comprised nearly half of the amount required to finally protect the oceanfront property. TPL -Hawai’i also commended the original landowners, California-based Landco, who held the property off of the market for nearly a year while the community raised funds and ultimately sold the property for less than market value in order to aid the effort.

“It is increasingly important that we all work together to protect critical coastal lands like Honu’apo that will serve as a permanent heritage to our children and grandchildren,” said Sen. Daniel K. Inouye.

The Hawai’i County Council and Mayor Kim contributed $500,000 toward the protection effort and demonstrated the tremendous potential that a County land fund could have in leveraging outside dollars. Based on the County’s contribution, the State of Hawai’i led by Senator Kokubun and Representative Herkes committed $1,000,000 in funding as part of the State’s new “Legacy Lands Fund.”

“Our values are rooted in the land,” said State Sen. Russell Kokubun, whose district includes the Honu’apo area. “Open access to the ocean and mauka areas is critical to the Ka’? community, and all of our Island.”

A flurry of private fundraising at the very end made the effort a success, with donations ranging from pocket change given at a “Ho’olaulea” last December to large donations made by Ka’?’s newest landowners. “This is a place that the local community has appreciated and taken care of for generations,” the County Council representative for the district, Councilmember Bob Jacobson, observed. “I am very grateful for everyone who pitched in what they could and now can relax knowing that this jewel is protected forever.”

The coastal lands at Honu’apo were slated for development into private oceanfront homes a little over a year ago, but an opportunity for protection opened up when LANDCO agreed to work with TPL. “We consider the fishpond, the shoreline and the land at Honu’apo to be an absolute gem,” stated LANDCO President Mark Lester. “We wanted the right thing for the community and the right thing for the land, and LANDCO is happy to have been given a chance to be a good neighbor.”

A new non-profit organization called Ka ‘Ohana o Honu’apo has been formed to help the County maintain the area and guide a stewardship process that will draw in local community residents as well as area children. The first order of business for the group is to hold a “Blessing Celebration” with TPL to thank the many individuals and agencies that made protection of the land possible. The community event will be held on Saturday June 3, 2006.

The 225-acre coastal area contains significant Native Hawaiian cultural sites, including a traditional Pu’uhonua (area of refuge) and an ancient grove of coconuts palms. Mayor Harry Kim acknowledged the strong passion to protect the Ka’? area, saying: “We know that the county is making a wise investment at Honu’apo where the vast bulk of the funding is coming from federal and state funds-and frankly this land is priceless in terms of value to the residents of Ka’?.”

Now that the land is finally protected, Ka Ohana o Honu’apo is reaching out to get volunteers and donors to start the process of restoring a landscape that had been largely neglected since the demise of the sugar industry in the area. “We’ll need people with big hearts and strong arms in the future to help turn this place back into a sanctuary for nature and the people of Ka’?,” said John Replogle, President of the Ohana. “But we have it back now for good, and that’s the best feeling of all.”

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.