(BIVN) – A State land board vote on Friday helps pave the way for the purchase and preservation of Māhokua in North Kohala.
The Hawaiʻi Board of Land and Natural Resources on June 9th voted to authorize DLNR chairperson Dawn Chang to sign a Notice of Federal Participation form, required by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, as part of the Mahukona Recovery Land Acquisition agreement.
US Fish & Wildlife is providing a $4 million grant to go towards the Hawaiʻi Land Trust’s purchase of Māhukona to permanently protect 642 acres of land, once slated for high density resort and urban development use.
The land includes the culturally important Koʻa Heiau Holomoana, a treasured navigational heiau.
“There’s really a lot of significant sites here, that I just want everybody to know that this is really important,” said Hawaiʻi island BLNR member Riley Smith, who also noted that “the Sugar Shack that’s on the property is part of the transaction, too,” which is the warehouse where Nā Kālai Waʻa constructed the Makaliʻi voyaging canoe. “So, you know, there’s a lot of significance in Māhukona.”
From the Hawaiʻi Department of Land and Natural Resources submittal to the BLNR:
The United States Fish and Wildlife Service (“FWS”) and the Department of Land and Natural Resources (“DLNR”) have entered into Federal Recovery Land Acquisition Grant Agreement Number F22AP00277 which provides $4,000,000 for the acquisition of fee title to 642 acres of real property in the North Kohala district of Hawaiʻi called Mahukona Navigational and Cultural Preserve (“Mahokua”). Mahukona is part of a coastal ecosystem that encompasses the ancient Kohala Field System and is located between Lapakahi State Historical Park and Kapaʻa Beach Park, both property of the State of Hawaiʻi. Mahukona contains many federal and state listed species and is strategically important for regional invasive species control.
On April 22, 2022, the Board of Land and Natural Resources (“Board”) approved the authorization of the Chairperson of DLNR to negotiate, enter into, amend, extend, and terminate an agreement to subgrant funds from the Mahukona RLA Agreement to another state or local agency or non-profit organization (“potential recipient”), conditioned on the grant funds being used to acquire fee title to the identified real property and the potential recipient agreeing to accept all of the provisions and obligations outlined in the proposed subgrant agreement. The Division of Forestry and Wildlife (“DOFAW”) entered into a subgrant agreement with Hawaiian Island Land Trust d/b/a Hawaiʻi :and Trust (“HILT”) on April 6, 2023 based on terms outlined in the Mahukona RLA Agreement.
FWS requires all grant recipients record a Notice of Federal Participation (“NOFP”) with the deed of the real property purchased using Federal Recovery Land Acquisition grant funds. The NOFP (1) identifies the location of the real property by legal description; (2) identifies the grant used to purchase the real property; (3) names the grant recipient and/or subrecipient of the grant; (4) identifies the FWS as the awarding agency and the purpose of the award; (5) provides assurance that the grant recipient and/or subrecipient will use the real property “for its originally authorized purpose as long as needed for the purpose or any future propose that is mutually agreed upon by the [FWS] and the [grant] recipient;” (6) provides that the recipient and/or subrecipient will not tolerate activities on the real property that interfere with its originally authorized purpose; (7) requires a statement the recipient and/or subrecipient will not dispose of, transfer, or encumber the title without FWS approval; (8) requires a statement there will be no discrimination on the real property under the award as long as it serves its originally authorized purpose; and (9) requires the signature of the director or chief executive of the recipient agency or organization and the signature of the director or chief executive of the subrecipient agency or organization that will hold the real property.
HILT is that intended subrecipient of the funds from the Mahukona RLA Agreement and is intended to hold title to Mahukona. When a grant recipient purchases and holds title to a property, the NOFP is recorded as part of the deed. Provided HILT purchases Mahukona, the deed and NOFP for Mahukona will be recorded separately for this property because DLNR will not hold title to Mahukona, but the Chairperson of DLNR is required to sign the NOFP as the recipient of the funds under the Mahukona RLA Agreement.