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Deal Reached to Preserve Land Along Ka‘ū Coast

December 17, 2019, 1:29 PM HST
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The voluntary sale of 2,317 acres of land along the Ka‘ū Coast was announced by officials Monday. This is the first conservation easement purchased by the County under the Public Access, Open Space, and Natural Resources Preservation (PONC) program.

The land acquisition, located in Kāhilipalinui and Kāhilipali‘iki ahupua‘a, Ka‘ū Moku, will conserve over 2.3 miles of the Ala Kahakai National Historic Trail or ala loa, the ancient fishing village of Waikapuna, and hundreds of intact pre‐contact Native Hawaiian cultural sites.

In addition to protecting important cultural sites and scenic portions of the Ala Kahakai National Historic Trail, the property also includes sea cliffs and caves that are nesting areas for seabirds like the Noio or Hawaiian black noddy.

“Waikapuna has it all – cultural significance and incredible coastal natural resources. We are
pleased that the Legacy Land Conservation Program contributed to the preservation of this land. The Legacy Program has created a tremendous legacy for Hawai‘i in its nearly 15 years,” said Suzanne Case, Chair of the Department of Land and Natural Resources.

The purchase price for the property was $6 million, with the landowner donating approximately $1.3 million in value.

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The County of Hawai‘i’s (PONC) Program granted $4 million, and the State LLCP granted $2 million, to Ala Kahakai Trail Association (ATA) to purchase the land (facilitated by The Trust for Public Land), which is now encumbered by a perpetual conservation easement owned by the County restricting the land to agricultural and cultural preservation uses.

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“We want to thank the landowner Ka’ū Mahi, LLC for being patient and working closely with us on this conservation purchase. We could not have conserved this agricultural and cultural treasure for the people of Hawai‘i without the landowner’s generosity and flexibility,” said Lea Hong, Hawaiian Islands State Director, The Trust for Public Land. “We are humbled to have been part of this community effort to conserve these special lands,” stated Byron Levkulich, Board Member, Ka’ū Mahi, LLC, the seller of the land.

The Ka‘ū community has been working for decades to protect their beloved 80-mile coast to honor their kūpuna and empower future generations to perpetuate their rural, subsistence lifestyle. The Waikapuna purchase is the first among five conservation projects to close, including Kawala (conservation easement only), Manaka‘a Fishing Village, Kiolaka‘a, and Kaunamano, which are pending. All five projects would conserve over 6,000 acres of coastline, cultural sites, and pasture land, and connect over 10 miles of the Ala Kahakai National Historic Trail.

This land also holds special meaning for Native Hawaiians as it is the place where noted Hawaiian scholar Mary Kawena Pukui spent her summers as a child, and where she learned the traditions and knowledge that formed the basis of her book, ‘The Polynesian Family System in Ka‘ū.’

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“As the new steward of the land, ATA can preserve both our ancient history and the paniolo heritage of ranching in Ka‘ū,” said Keoni Fox, Director, Ala Kahakai Trail Association. We look forward to working closely with Ka‘ū families to mālama this special ‘āina and cultural
legacy for future generations.”

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