HONOKA’A, Hawaii – Waipi’o Valley residents and taro farmers recently sat down with county planners to discuss policies that would preserve traditional agricultural practices within the Hamakua Community Development Plan, a community-driven document currently in its draft stage.
The meeting was held May 18 at the North Hawaii Education and Research Center in Honoka’a, where planners worked with the community to look into ways the county can help preserve Waipiʻo Valley “as a wahi pana, focusing on protecting natural ecosystems, viewsheds, streams, managing responsible access, and perpetuating Hawaiian culture.” (draft CDP)
Hawaii County planner LeAna Gloor led the discussion, which involved long-time valley residents and taro farmers. The draft Hamakua CDP is currently in draft form and is being vetted in public meetings.
This is part of a video series that will feature the Hamakua CDP – Waipiʻo Valley discussion. The entire collection of videos will be available here:
Hamakua CDP – Related Policies
from DRAFT Hamakua CDP
Provide a property tax credit for the perpetual conservation of taro systems on private land (i.e. agricultural, conservation or cultural easements) for owners and lessees who enter into long term agreements (20 years) to rehabilitate taro systems to active use.
Rationale: In 2008, the Hawai‘i State Legislature passed Act 211, establishing the Taro Security and Purity Task Force (TSPTF). The Task Force was charged with finding solutions to the problems facing taro production, taro farmers and taro markets. This policy is consistent with one of their recommendations for improving protections to taro-growing lands and serves to protect taro as a special resource from both an agricultural and a cultural perspective. This policy is consistent with the Taro Security and Purity Task Force recommendation to create incentives for active rehabilitation of taro-growing lands that result in taro lands protection. For more information, see pages 233-239 in Appendix V4A.
Work with farmers, landowners, community organizations and agency partners (Army Corps of Engineers, State Commission on Water Resources Management (CWRM), State Department of Health, State Historical Preservation Division) to create a simplified stream maintenance permitting process for Wailoa Stream and other streams in the Waipiʻo Valley.
Rationale: Several studies that have been conducted in Waipiʻo Valley have identified the need for a stream maintenance program to ensure sufficient conditions for the cultivation of taro as well as providing flood protection. However, the complexities of the permitting process and the implementation costs have resulted in minimal implementation of the technical and organizational suggestions. This policy recognizes that the County should be a party to any effort to streamline a permitting process. For more information on stream management, see pages 15, 45, 65, 190, 226-269 in Appendix V4A.
Planners are also considering including “kōkua actions” like:
- asking the state legislature to appropriate funds to the county to “develop recommendations of lands to be designated Important Agricultural Lands”.
- asking the State Land Use Commission to “reconsider the State’s agriculture land capability class designations to better protect viable taro growing lands.”
- ask the governor to “release allocated disaster funding to help taro farmers and residents of Waipiʻo Valley to avoid future flood damage.”
- apply to the state Department of Agriculture for “Specialty Crop Block Grants to strengthen taro production.”