Maui News

$2.7M in Grants Proposed to Protect Maui County Lands

October 15, 2019, 11:46 AM HST
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The Legacy Land Conservation Commission is recommending about $2.7 million in grants to protect lands in East Maui and East Moloka’i.

The two sites, in Maka’alae and Mapulehu, are among the commission’s list of top five sites across the islands nominated for total funding of $6.4 million.

According to a press release last week, the recommendations require approval from the Board of Land and Natural Resources and the Governor.

While thirteen properties requiring $15 million were recommended for funding, the existing budget of $6.4 million will fund the top five properties.

  • Maka‘alae Lands (Ke Ao Hali‘i, with conservation easement held by Hawaiian Islands Land Trust; full award for Fiscal Year 2021).

Four parcels of oceanfront pasture land at Hāna, Maui cover about 30 acres of a larger effort to conserve 18 parcels totaling 150 acres.  These are prime camping, fishing, and gathering spots for local residents that are also rich in cultural, historical, and natural resource value, the release said.

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Mapulehu (Moloka‘i Land Trust, with conservation easement held by Hawaiian Islands Land Trust; partial award for Fiscal Year 2020).

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The property extends across two parcels totaling 1,816 acres, from near the ocean to the summit of East Moloka‘i. The lower parcel holds the platform of ‘Ili‘ili‘ōpae Heiau, which is said to have been a training area for kahuna and a sacrificial heiau.

According to the release, the area “supported kalo cultivation in lo‘i along Mapulehu Stream and its tributaries.” The upper property is largely watershed, disturbed and degraded by the introduction of cattle and other invasive species, where human activity likely included agricultural use at lower elevations, and hunting and gathering of materials for daily use and cultural use.

The commission also proposed an increase to the program’s Fiscal Year 2021 budget to provide funding for eight additional properties, which would include 32 acres of coastal land in Hāna, 11,000 acres of West Maui watershed lands, coastal access to Keone‘ō‘i‘o Bay (also known as La Perouse Bay), as well as coastal ecosystem protection for anchialine pools at Nānu‘alele in East Maui.

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“Despite land use regulations and development in Hawai‘i, lands that hold important resource values are often unprotected, inaccessible, and threatened with damage and destruction,” the commission wrote in the release.

The State Legislature established the Land Conservation Fund in 2005 to provide permanent adequate funding for land conservation by dedicating proceeds from the real estate conveyance tax to the Fund.

The grant application and approval process includes consultation with three State agencies (DLNR, Department of Agriculture, and the Agribusiness Development Corporation).

The process also requires field visits and public meetings with the Legacy Land Conservation Commission; consultation with the President of the State Senate and the Speaker of the State House of Representatives; environmental review; before final approval by the BLNR, the Department of Budget and Finance and the Governor.

The application process for grants for Fiscal Year 2022 funds is scheduled to begin in January 2020.

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