NEW & NOTEWORTHY: Land Acquired, Ag Aid Foregone, and a New NAR

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Disputed No More: For the last 25 years, a 10-acre parcel of land in North Kohala, just south of the hauntingly beautiful Lapakahi State Park, has been the object of heated disputes as owners sought to obtain Conservation District Use Permits to build a luxury house on the site.

Last month, however, the area was acquired by the County of Hawai`i, using funds set aside to purchase open lands, with assistance from the Department of Land and Natural Resources’ Legacy Lands program and the Trust for Public Lands. Total cost of the land, sold by Jonathan Cohen, was $1.89 million.

The site is littered with historic and cultural sites and is crossed by the Ala Kahakai National Historic Trail. It is part of an extensive network of sites that once were traditional Hawaiian fishing villages along the Kohala coast.

Efforts to develop the property have been the subject of many reports published in Environment Hawai`i. A former owner, Michael Rearden (a.k.a. Roark McGonigle) lost a CDUP in 1995 after years of extensions – and a convoluted court case. (See the “In the Conservation District” columns of October and November 1993, May and August 1994, and July and August 1995.) More recently, Cohen sought to build on the property. (See the “Board Talk” columns in the June and August 2006 issues of Environment Hawai`i.)

Slow Start for Ag-Aid: The Hawai`i Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program, which provides federal funds to farmers and ranchers doing natural resource protection, has suffered through some initial growing pains, but is finally making some headway, according to a recent annual report.

Launched in March 2009, the program generated a lot of interest at the start from 20 potential participants on Maui and Hawai`i covering about 1,300 acres, which equates roughly to the 1,500 acres program staff had targeted for enrollment within the program’s first five years.

As of October, however, only two projects totaling 25.4 acres had been officially enrolled and about 15 others were in the pipeline.

The CREP has assisted in the acquisition of conservation easements over 4,500 acres of Kukaiau Ranch on the Big Island and 614 acres of Moloka`i’s Kainalu Ranch, providing nearly $18,000 in funds.

The total cost of CREP funding, including in-kind contributions, has been about $2.3 million. On November 12, the state Board of Land and Natural Resources authorized its chair to approve future CREP projects.

New NAR at Nakula: A proposal to designate approximately 1,500 acres of the Kahikinui Forest Reserve as the Nakula Natural Area Reserve may have raised opposition from Maui’s hunting community back in April, but at the Land Board’s October 28 meeting, it received approval without anyone voicing dissent.

The only member of the public to testify on the matter was Marjorie Ziegler, executive director of Conservation Council for Hawai`I, who supported the proposal and added that she’s been happy with the DLNR’s recent efforts to expand the NAR system statewide after more than a decade of inactivity.

Despite being trampled by cattle and goats for the past 200 eyars, Nakula maintains a decent leeward koa forest. Two endangered bird species as well as the Hawaiian bat inhabit the area, which has also been proposed as a reintroduction site for the endangered maui parrotbill, Maui `alauahio, and `akohekohe, according to a report by the DLNR’s Division of Forestry and Wildlife.


Volume 21, Number 6 — December 2010


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