Over 250 Acres of Land Protected in Perpetuity on Maui

Trust for Public Land (TPL), the State of Hawai‘i Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR), the County of Maui, and community supporters, jointly announce the purchase and protection of the 257-acre Pōhākea property (also known as Māʻalaea Mauka), including three wells and a 750,000-gallon water tank for the benefit of the community. Located in Central Maui, nestled between the ahupuaʻa of Ukumehame and Wailuku, at the base of the Mauna Kahālāwai (West Maui Mountains) and mauka of Māʻalaea Bay, the public purchase enables the new owner of the land — the DLNR and its Division of Forestry and Wildlife (DOFAW) — to collaborate with the County of Maui and community stakeholders to reduce recurrent wildfire risks, enhance public access to hiking trails, protect cultural and scenic resources, and reduce stormwater runoff and erosion impacting Māʻalaea Bay.

Mā‘alaea Bay was a traditional canoe landing site, referenced in several historical instances as a landing for armies coming to fight Maui’s King Kahekili and for chiefs on their way to Wailuku. The bay is home to a vast array of cultural resources, archaeological and historical sites and marine and wetland sanctuaries for the protection of endangered species. The property is also home to the historic Lahaina Pali Trail — one of Maui’s most popular hiking trails.

“When our natural resources are protected, our culture is protected,” said the County of Maui Mayor Richard Bissen. “We appreciate Trust for Public Land and the state’s efforts to preserve Pōhākea, along with its rich natural, cultural and historical resources, and look forward to working with the state in reducing wildfire risks that have plagued this area and West Maui.”

Pōhākea’s upland areas offer restoration potential for numerous species, including the Hawaiian hoary bat, nēnē (Hawaiian goose) and native plant species. The property’s southernmost tip falls within a county-zoned Special Management Area for coastal zone management.

“Collaboration between the community, public and private sectors is key to accomplishing significant endeavors,” said Dawn Chang, DLNR Chair. “We look forward to seeing Pōhākea and its surrounding adjacent state lands flourish and serve as a model for successful collaborative community-based resource management.”

“Trust for Public Land was pleased to put this property under contract and deed the land to the state, setting the stage for public management of the important resources on the land and to reduce wildfire risks,” said Lea Hong, Associate Vice President of Trust for Public Land. “This project is not only a vital conservation effort but can help to facilitate the health and safety of the surrounding communities for generations to come, and we’re grateful to the state, county, and community partners who worked collaboratively to achieve this significant milestone.”

“Our community has long advocated for the protection and purchase of this land for public use and community supported management. We look forward to working with the state and county on mālama ʿāina efforts that will enhance the water quality of Māʻalaea Bay and safeguard its reefs and corals,” said Tapani Vuori, General Manager of the Maui Ocean Center and Vice President, Māʻalaea Village Association.

The State Legacy Land Conservation Program and the County of Maui Open Space contributed $1M and $6.2M to fund the conservation purchase, respectively.

About Trust for Public Land

Trust for Public Land (TPL) is a national nonprofit that works to connect everyone to the benefits and joys of the outdoors. As a leader in equitable access to the outdoors, TPL works with communities to create parks and protect public land where they are needed most. Since 1972, TPL has protected 4 million acres of public land; created 5,420 parks, trails, 200+ Community Schoolyards® projects, and iconic outdoor places; raised $94 billion in public funding for parks and public lands; and brought parks and trails to within a 10-minute walk of home for nearly 9.7 million people. To learn more, visit https://www.tpl.org/state/hawaii.