Kamehamenui Forest Acquired For Conservation

A recent land acquisition protects the Kula water aquifer, habitat for endangered species, and community-based forest restoration opportunities. These lands are now protected in perpetuity thanks to federal, state, and non-profit partners. 

The Trust for Public Land (TPL) purchased 3,433 acres of upland Kula property from the Shizuka Asakawa Revocable Trust in July and conveyed the property to the DLNR Division of Forestry and Wildlife (DOFAW) on August 31. The acquisition will provide substantial community benefits.  

“We thank Shizuka Asakawa and her brokers Roy Sakamoto, R(B), Coldwell Banker Island Properties and Patricia Chaney, R(B), Island Sotheby’s International Realty, for working with The Trust for Public Land and the State through many hurdles, and for selling the property for public benefit at below the appraised fair market value. Thanks to the efforts of the Maui legislative contingent, the State DLNR/DOFAW, our federal funding partners at the U.S.D.A. Forest Service and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, and our U.S. Congressional delegation, Kamehamenui will be preserved in perpetuity for the benefit of the public,” stated Lea Hong, Hawaiian Islands State Director of The Trust for Public Land.  

As the State has just acquired the property, it is not yet open to public use. Over the coming year, DOFAW will add the property to the Forest Reserve System and will initiate consultation with the community to develop a management plan for the area. This plan will address native forest restoration and tree planting for self-sustaining forestry operations, and endangered species recovery. The area is home to endangered Hawaiian petrels, and the restored forest is expected to improve habitat for numerous native plants and insects. Reforestation efforts will also help recharge the Makawao aquifer, securing clean drinking water for people for generations to come. 

In the future, the property is intended to provide new recreational opportunities for Maui residents and visitors with hiking trails, places to picnic, and places to grow and gather forest products. “Many people worked hard over many years on Kamehamenui, and we are thrilled and grateful to see it protected now. During a difficult economic period, it combines federal and state land acquisition funds for the public benefit. Over the long-term, this project will increase community and ecosystem resilience – which is more important than ever now,” stated Suzanne Case, Chairperson of the Board of Land and Natural Resources. 

Federal funding from the U.S. Forest Service Forest Legacy Program and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, both funded as part of the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), provided most of the funds needed. In the recently enacted Great American Outdoors Act, Congress provided permanent full and dedicated funding for the LWCF, which will support similar projects in Hawaiʻi in the future. State funding secured through legislative appropriation provided the matching funds needed to complete the project.  

“I’m pleased that these federal funds will provide more future outdoor recreational opportunities to the people of Maui and the state. But as important, they will help replant the land with native hardwoods, provide more habitat for endangered native species, and protect watershed recharge areas for generations to come,” stated Senator Brian Schatz. “Projects like the Kamehamenui Forest acquisition are successful because of public and private collaboration that includes federal, state, and local stakeholders. The investment made today will provide benefits to recreation, native habitat preservation, and forested watershed protection on Maui for years to come. I will continue my work on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee to support these programs that are critically important to Hawaii,” stated Senator Mazie Hirono. 

Sources of funding for the $9,830,000 purchase: 

U.S.D.A. Forest Service Forest Legacy Program – $3,830,000; 
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Habitat Conservation Plan Acquisition Program – $2M; 
State funding procured through legislative appropriation – $4M. 

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Link to photographs and 3 min B-roll video courtesy of Island Sotheby’s International Realty (please note 
protected land does NOT include house in video): 


Media Contacts: 

Lea Hong Dan Dennison 

Hawaii State Director Senior Communications Manager 

The Trust for Public Land Hawai’i Department of Land and Natural Resources 

lea.hong@tpl.org dlnr.comms@hawaii.gov 

(808) 783-3653 (808) 587-0396