By Kaleo Paik, Ala Kahakai Trail Association, Board of Directors Secretary
Ala Kahakai Trail Association (ATA) has just closed on acquiring over 1,800 acres of land at Kiolaka`a in Ka`ū to protect and preserve the trail, cultural and natural resources as well as the view plane along the coast. This land acquisition took several years and was done in large part through the efforts of the Trust for Public Land. Funding for the purchase came from the State Legacy Land and the County of Hawaii PONC programs.
Below are comments from an article in the Trust for Public Land announcement from individuals closely tied to the project from our organization that reflect the deep commitment of ATA to the land and the community for the best possible efforts to steward the land.
“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 kupuna (ancestors) to mālama (steward) these lands for the next generation,” said Keoni Fox, Vice- President, Ala Kahakai Trail Association.
“When you connect kanaka maoli (Hawaiians) to their ʻāina kulāiwi (land of their ancestors) in places like Kiolakaʻa, that foundation has great potential to further strengthen and foundate our Ka`ū community,” shared Nohealani Kaawa, 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.”
This last acquisition completes ATA’s efforts in the Ka`ū area. In total, we have acquired over 5,400 acres in fee and approximately another 1,700 acres as administrative easement holder. A stewardship hui or committee has been formed and is actively working on how best to manage these lands. A Management Plan has been initiated and is close to completion for one of our parcels and we will have two other plans initiated in the very near future. All of the Management Plans will incorporate Hawaiian values, a strong commitment to preserving cultural resources, native plants and their habitat, and looking to incorporate best practices in land usage.
ATA is very grateful to the Trust for Public Land, the State and County of Hawaii for the funding, the Stewardship Hui for their continued commitment and the ATA Board for having the foresight and resilience to fight for these lands.