Maui News

Haleakalā Land Exchange Proposed to Ensure Trail Access

January 9, 2014, 9:27 AM HST
* Updated January 9, 9:52 AM
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By Maui Now Staff

Overview of the two trails proposed for access agreements, the Haleakala Trail to the north, and the new access route to the reserves of leeward Haleakala to the south. Division of Forestry and Wildlife.

Overview of the two trails proposed for access agreements, the Haleakala Trail to the north, and the new access route to the reserves of leeward Haleakala to the south. Division of Forestry and Wildlife.

The state Department of Land and Natural Resources announced a proposed agreement to do a land exchange with Haleakalā Ranch in an effort to ensure public access to a hiking trail, and avoid costly litigation.

The agency reports that a dispute over ownership dates back more than 10 years and now includes a lawsuit.

Under the compromise proposal, the state would relinquish title to the Haleakalā Bridle Trail, but maintain a binding perpetual agreement for public access to the trail. The state would also gain perpetual easement for a new access route to the Kahikinui Forest Reserve and Na Kula Natural Area Reserve under the agreement.

State officials say the land on the upper slopes are important sites for several initiatives including watershed restoration and recovery of endangered species such as the Maui Parrotbill.

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The item comes up for review before the Board of Land and Natural Resources on Friday. In addition to board approval, the proposed exchange would also require state legislative approval.

Endangered Maui Parrotbill.  The state and its partners are conducting research and management aimed at restoring this endangered species to the forests of the leeward reserves.  Courtesy Division of Forestry and Wildlife.

Endangered Maui Parrotbill. The state and its partners are conducting research and management aimed at restoring this endangered species to the forests of the leeward reserves. Courtesy Division of Forestry and Wildlife.

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“We are considering this proposed land agreement because our initial analysis indicates that it may be the solution with the best public benefit,” said DLNR Chair William Aila in a department press release.

“The public would still have access to the Haleakalā Trail but would also gain access to thousands of acres of reserves on leeward Haleakalā that provide exciting recreational opportunities,” he said.

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