At noon Wednesday (Aug. 31), the ancient stoneworks of Lapakahi State Historical Park rang with voices singing “Aloha, Hawaii” in celebration of the permanent protection of three pieces of unspoiled Kohala oceanfront land.
It has taken many years and the cooperation and support of dozens of public and private partners — but visit the wild beauty of Kaiholena, Pao, and Lamalaloa and you’ll see why we have no doubt it was worth the effort.
In March, the state Department of Land and Natural Resources announced the addition of 17 shoreline acres to Lapakahi State Historical Park in North Kohala, located in an area traditionally known as Nuuanu.
The acquisition was assisted by a diverse public-private partnership of Kohala community organizations, the Trust for Public Land (a national non-profit land conservation organization), the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration, the State Office of Planning’s Coastal Zone Management Program (OP-CZMP), the State Legislature, and the State Legacy Land Conservation Program.
The purchase protects dozens of significant pre-contact Hawaiian cultural sites associated with the cultural and archaeological complex within the park, and protects and provides access to the adjacent Lapakahi Marine Life Conservation District, which serves as habitat for more than 116 marine species.
The $2.35 million purchase of the land was made possible by matching grants from the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration’s Coastal Estuarine Land Conservation Program (CELCP)and the State Legacy Land Conservation Program.
The land had been threatened by residential development before The Trust for Public Land was able to negotiate an agreement with a private landowner to add it to the Park.
“The Kohala community is truly blessed that this land, this treasure, has been protected from development, and saved for our children and grandchildren. Protection of Nuuanu demonstrates how the Kohala community is putting into action the Kohala Community Development Plan which states that Kohala is a historic preservation community,” said Fred Cachola, member of Maikai Kamakani O Kohala.
Half of the purchase price was provided by the CELCP fund, a competitive federal program, which ranked this project No. 1 in the nation among 57 competing projects from other states.
“The national No. 1 ranking is a testament to this property’s unique cultural and natural resources, which are invaluable to Hawaii and to our entire nation,” said Allen Tom, Regional Director, Office of National Marine Sanctuaries, NOAA.
The CELCP program was created eight years ago to protect coastal and estuarine lands, and it provides state and local governments with matching funds to acquire land for the protection of open space and conservation of resources. The CELCP program is administered through OP-CZMP.
The Trust for Public Land (TPL), OPCZMP, and the Division of State Parks worked together to apply for the CELCP funding.
U.S. Sen. Daniel K. Inouye said: “The acquisition of Lapakahi ensures the preservation of the proud Native Hawaiian tradition of healing and the beautiful Kohala coastline for generations to enjoy. These difficult economic times require greater creativity and partnership to ensure continued conservation of these special treasures. We cannot afford to wait for a better day — too much will be lost. I am pleased with the steady federal investment and partnership in so many of these successful endeavors. They must continue.”
U.S. Sen. Daniel K. Akaka said: “These irreplaceable pre-contact Hawaiian cultural sites provide a window into the vibrant history and future of these islands. Generations to come will understand with even greater appreciation the commitment and foresight made here today to preserve these unique and valued coastal lands in perpetuity against competing development interests.”
The other half of the purchase price was funded by the state’s Land Conservation Fund, created in 2005 by the State Legislature, and funded by 10 percent of the real estate conveyance tax.
The Senate President and Speaker of the House consult with the non-partisan Legacy Land Conservation Commission on an annual basis regarding the projects recommended for funding by the Commission.
From 2006 to 2010, the Legacy Land Conservation Program has issued $16.9 million in awards, and attracted $37.8 million in matching federal, county and private funds towards the protection of over 7,215 acres of cultural, natural, agricultural, and recreational resource lands.
Funded projects leverage 70 percent matching funds from federal, county, or other private sources. On average, for every state dollar spent, $1.14 in federal matching funds are leveraged.
Lapakahi State Historical Park is listed in the National and Hawaii Registers of Historic Places as an excellent example of a leeward coastal settlement that spans a 600 year period from circa A.D. 1300 to the early 1900s.
The new 17-acre parcel has significant cultural sites that are part of this larger Lapakahi complex and the potential for development of the parcel under private ownership resulted in its recent listing as one of Hawaii’s Most Endangered Places by Honolulu Magazine and the Historic Hawaii Foundation.
“This parcel was surrounded on three sides by Lapakahi State Historical Park with the fourth side being adjacent to the Lapakahi Marine Life Conservation District,” said William Aila, Jr., DLNR director. “It has been the state’s desire for many years to acquire this property and include it within the park as part of the larger Lapakahi complex.”
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