(BIVN) – A land parcel in Kaʻū that is nearly 2,000-acres in size has been “protected in perpetuity”, according to a news release from the Trust for Public Land.
The Kiolakaʻa parcel, located just east of the South Point area and stretching from mauka to makai near Kaʻaluʻalu Bay, is now under the stewardship of the Ala Kahakai Trail Association. From the Trust:
Guided by the Kaʻū community’s vision to protect their coastline from development, Trust for Public Land transferred ownership and stewardship of Kiolakaʻa – an undeveloped 1,838-acre property in Kaʻū to Ala Kahakai Trail Association, a Native Hawaiian nonprofit. Protecting Kiolakaʻa maintains miles of open space and public access to coastal lands surrounding Kaʻaluʻalu Bay and Kapenako fresh water spring, a complex of anchialine ponds, as well as important cultural sites including a section of the Ala Kahakai Trail.
“We’re celebrating this milestone thanks to the commitment of the Kaʻū community,” said Reyna Ramolete Hayashi, Aloha ʻĀina project manager for Trust for Public Land. “Their aloha for this special place has ensured it will be protected in perpetuity, and we are humbled to have helped ensure their vision is now reality.”
Kiolakaʻa is home to a treasured natural and cultural landscape, including one of the island’s largest cave systems, the ancient Kamakalepo settlement which includes heiau (places of worship) and habitation sites, a native dryland forest, an extensive trail network, native coastal plants, a rich marine ecosystem and two varieties of ʻōpaeʻula – a rare endemic red shrimp. With 90% of Hawaiʻi’s native dryland forests lost, the preservation of Kiolakaʻa is critical to the survival of rare and endangered plants.
“Protecting ʻāina is key to preserving culture and history,” added Ramolete Hayashi. “Efforts like these give us the unique opportunity to partner with communities and honor the values and traditions they hold dear.”
Under the Ala Kahakai Trail Association’s thoughtful stewardship, Kiolakaʻa’s historic ranch lands will be protected, ensuring Kaʻū’s paniolo history is perpetuated. Cattle ranching will continue to fuel the area’s economy, supporting local jobs and food security. Community members are welcome to steward precious cultural resources and continue subsistence fishing, gathering and cultural practices in the area.
“ATA looks forward to working closely with the Ka‘ū community and the County to create a community management plan that honors the legacy of our kūpuna to mālama these lands for the next generation,” said Keoni Fox, Director, Ala Kahakai Trail Association.
“When you connect kanaka maoli to their ʻāina kulāiwi in places like Kiolakaʻa, that foundation has great potential to further strengthen and foundate our Kaʻū community,” shared Nohealani Ka‘awa, Stewardship Committee, Ala Kahakai Trail Association. “Strong communities are born out of each of us being our best selves and when given a space to work together, it allows for positive impacts, shaping the future of our keiki with all the resources that Kiolaka‘a has to offer and teach.”
The funding for the conservation purchase was made possible by the County of Hawai‘i Public Access Open Space and Natural Resources Preservation Program, the State of Hawai‘i Department of Land and Natural Resources Legacy Land Conservation Program (LLCP), and the Freeman Foundation.
“Listening to and learning from the community is how we advance positive change,” said Mayor Mitch Roth. “We’re grateful for the Kaʻū community’s vision and are honored to have worked alongside them to ensure Kiolakaʻa remains a pristine, natural resource for the community for generations to come.”
“We’re thankful for the commitment of Trust for Public Land and Ala Kahakai Trail Association, who, guided by the community, have ensured another significant acreage of land in our state is preserved,” said Suzanne Case, Chair of the State of Hawaiʻi’s Department of Land and Natural Resources.
“I am honored to convey this historically important property to Trust for Public Land and Ala Kahakai Trail Association, knowing it will be preserved for future generations,” stated Ernest Moody, EWM Enterprises, LP, the seller of the land.
“We are grateful to all participants who have successfully completed the transaction, so this ‘āina will be protected in perpetuity,” added Hawaii Pacific Brokers Realtor Charlie Anderson, who represented the seller.
Including Kiolakaʻa, Trust for Public Land’s completed and in-progress projects have protected more than 24,000 acres surrounding the Ala Kahakai National Historic Trail, a 175-mile trail traversing many storied landscapes throughout Hawaiʻi Island.