Honouliuli Preserve Watershed Purchased and Protected

The Trust for Public Land (TPL) and the Hawai’i Department of Land and Natural Resources today announced that TPL has transferred the 3,592 acre Honouliuli Preserve on O’ahu to the State of Hawai’i, Department of Land and Natural Resources, Division of Forestry and Wildlife (DOFAW).

The Preserve will be added to the DOFAW forest reserve for watershed and habitat protection. A $345,000 endowment has been established at the Hawai’i Community Foundation to support the State’s management efforts in the Preserve.

The Preserve is a lowland diverse forest on the eastern slope of the Wai’anae Mountain Range where 35 threatened and endangered species live, including 16 found nowhere else in the world. The species include the endangered O’ahu ‘Elepaio (forest bird, which is a symbol of Hawaiian canoe-making) and the endangered “singing” kahuli tree snail. The land is also part of the watershed feeding the Pearl Harbor Aquifer, the largest drinking water resource on O’ahu. The Preserve also includes many cultural sites, including Pohakea Pass, where Pele’s sister Hi’iaka is said to have traveled and stood upon to view devastation the angry Pele had wrought upon Puna, Hawai’i Island.

The Trust for Public Land bought the property from the James Campbell Company, LLC (formerly the Estate of James Campbell), and it had been managed by The Nature Conservancy’s Hawai’i Program. The Nature Conservancy changed its focus to other areas, while the James Campbell Company was selling the reserve. The Trust for Public Land, helped by private and public partners, bought the Preserve in September 2009.

“The State of Hawai’i is proud to have worked with TPL, the Army, the US Fish & Wildlife Service, and the community to protect the Honouliuli Preserve Watershed. Protecting thePreserve from development and managing its forest resources will conserve the drinking water quality and quantity of the Pearl Harbor aquifer — the largest drinking water source for the island of O`ahu. Natural resources like the Preserve serve the public with valuable services such as clean drinking water,” said Laura Thielen, the Chair of the Board of Land and Natural Resources.

“There is an ‘olelo no’eau/Hawaiian proverb that says ”A’ohe hana nui ke alu ‘ia; No task is too big when done together by all,'” said Lea Hong, The Trust for Public Land’s Hawaiian Islands Program Director, Lea Hong. “The protection of the Honouliuli Preserve was a seemingly impossible task spanning four years, which could not have happened without the work of all of the dozens of public, private, and community partners and individuals who supported this amazing project.”

Friends of Honouliuli Vice President, Pauline Sato, stated that, “We welcome public ownership of the Honouliuli Preserve which has benefited through the years from volunteer restoration and education programs. We are excited by the opportunity to join all of the stakeholders in safeguarding this important environmental and cultural landscape for generations to come.” Friends of Honouliuli is a volunteer-based non-profit organization whose mission is to preserve, protect, and perpetuate the environment and cultural practices of Honouliuli through stewardship and education.

The Trust for Public Land raised $4.3 million in acquisition funding from three sources – $2,689,234.50 from the Army Compatible Use Buffer Program (ACUB), $627,809 from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Recovery Land Acquisition (RLA) Program, and $982,956.50 from the Hawai’i Legacy Land Conservation Fund.

The ACUB program provides money to state and local agencies and conservation groups to conserve land located around Army facilities, buffering Army training areas. ACUB funds have helped conserve 1,875 acres at Waimea Valley, O’ahu in 2006, 1,129 acres at Pupukea-Paumalu, O’ahu in 2007, and 3,716 acres at Moanalua Valley, O’ahu in 2007.

“The Army is proud to have contributed to the protection of the precious cultural and natural resources found in the Honouliuli Preserve,” said Col. Matthew T. Margotta, commander of U.S. Army Garrison-Hawai’i. “We look forward to continuing our efforts of working in partnership with the State, and take seriously our commitment to be good stewards for the lands we maintain in order to preserve these fragile environments for future generations.”

The U.S. Fish & Wildlife’s RLA program provides funding for the purchases from willing landowners of habitat for threatened and endangered species. The RLA program has helped with the acquisition of numerous parcels in Hawai’i, including Moanalua Valley on O’ahu, Waihe’e coastal wetland and dunes on Maui, and the Kuka’iau (Carlsmith) property on Hawai’i Island. “The USFWS has been funding habitat restoration projects at Honouliuli for many years because this area is home to so many listed species. We are pleased to now be playing a role in the permanent protection of this important habitat area,” said Loyal Mehrhoff, Field Supervisor of the Pacific Islands U.S. Fish and Wildlife Office.

The state Legacy Land Conservation Fund was established in 2005 to protect important natural areas and cultural sites/landscapes and is funded by 10% of the Hawai’i’s conveyance tax, which is paid by the seller in land transactions. The Legislature is considering bills that would abolish the fund for several years (HB2885), take money from fund to meet current budget shortfalls (HB 2542), or expand the use of the fund for other purposes (HB 979).

“This is a good financial deal for the State, even in these difficult economic times.” said Ms. Hong, “For less than $1 million in State taxpayer dollars, the people of Hawai’i are getting land with an appraised fair market value of $4.3 million thanks to the substantial federal funding that we were able to leverage with the help of our federal Congressional delegation. The State’s future management of the Preserve is being supported by the Army and a private management endowment. The small amount in the State’s Legacy Land Conservation Fund leverages substantial federal and private funds to make amazing projects like the Honouliuli Preserve happen.”

U.S. Senator Daniel K. Inouye said, “Conservation is about partnerships. Programs like the Army Compatible Use Buffer and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Recovery Land Acquisition program help protect Hawai’i’s fragile environment. I was happy to support funding for the U.S. Army Garrison and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. They are steadfast federal partners in pristine preservation.”

Creative financing measures were necessary to secure the Preserve for a conservation sale. The Edmund C. Olson Trust, a private trust established by Edmund C. Olson, a landowner on Hawai’i Island and O’ahu and the founder of A-American Self-Storage, provided $4 million of capital for six months to secure the Preserve from being sold on the private market while TPL raised the necessary funding and financing. TPL bought the land in September 2009 from the James Campbell Company LLC, and through a loan provided by the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, gave the State of Hawai’i another six months to finish the project. “Without innovative financing by Edmund C. Olson and the Packard Foundation, TPL would not have been able to respond to the landowner’s required timeline and make this conservation transaction happen,” said Ms. Hong. “The partners and contributors to this project will be participating in a dedication and blessing of the land in the next several months.”

A public-private partnership is also supporting the State’s management of the Preserve. The U.S. Army Garrison Hawai’i will continue to invest more than $500,000 per year to help the state manage the endangered and threatened species in the Preserve. And, through a $295,000 donation by The Nature Conservancy, a $25,000 donation by the Gill Family Trusts, and a $25,000 donation by the Edmund C. Olson Trust, a $345,000 endowment will be established at the Hawai’i Community Foundation to support the State’s management efforts within the Preserve. Individual donations can also be made to support the endowment through the Hawai’i Community Foundation.

“Since The Nature Conservancy made the strategic decision to transfer our property rightsat Honouliuli, it has been our intent to place 100% of the value of our lease into an endowmentthat would support the ongoing stewardship of this special place. And with this agreement wehave achieved that,” said Suzanne Case, the Nature Conservancy’s Hawai’i executive director.Maps and photos available by email (lea.hong@tpl.org) upon request.

The Trust For Public Land is a national nonprofit land conservation organization founded in 1972 to conserve land for people. In Hawai’i, TPL has preserved 39,600 acres by working side by side with land trusts, community groups and public agencies to protect lands important to the people of Hawai’i.