Ka Iwi Coast Mauka Lands Now Preserved!

Hosted by:The Trust for Public Land

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Last two parcels complete 40-year community effort to keep 7 miles coastline undeveloped

Ka Iwi Coast Mauka Lands – a culturally important and spectacular scenic coastline located in east O‘ahu that has been threatened with development for decades  – will be preserved in perpetuity in its natural state. The announcement, made on April 6, 2017 by the City and County of Honolulu, State of Hawai‘i, Ka Iwi Coalition, Livable Hawai‘i Kai Hui and The Trust for Public Land, ends a 40-year-long struggle to protect this beloved landscape.

The Ka Iwi Coast holds special meaning for many individuals, including former U.S. President Barack Obama, whose mothers’ ashes are scattered beneath the sea cliffs at Lāna‘i Lookout and who grew up body-surfing at the famed Sandy Beach. Canoe paddlers, fishermen and boaters use the scenic coastline as a key navigational landmark indicating the Ka Iwi channel between Oʻahu and Molokaʻi. For Native Hawaiians, Ka Iwi Coast is part of their genealogy – the first place on O‘ahu where the volcano goddess Pele struck her legendary digging stick looking for a fiery home and a place steeped in ancient stories and once dotted with fishing villages. Every day, thousands of residents and visitors hike, swim, surf or paddle along this stunning natural coastline that is one of the defining landscapes of Hawai‘i.

“This coastline – so rich in natural beauty and cultural sites and loved by all for surfing, fishing, hiking and scenic drives – is now protected forever,” said State of Hawai‘i Department of Land and Natural Resources Chairperson Suzanne Case.  

On March 31, The Trust for Public Land conveyed the remaining two parcels totaling 182 acres of east Oʻahu coastline to the community through nonprofit Livable Hawai‘i Kai Hui, which now owns and will steward the land. The State Department of Land and Natural Resources has imposed protective deed restrictions and the City and The Trust for Public Land will co-hold a conservation easement over the properties ensuring the land will never be threatened with development again. Over the years, developers have proposed building resorts, luxury residential subdivisions, vacation cabin rentals and a private club on the land.

The Trust for Public Land and Livable Hawai‘i Kai Hui have been working together since 2012 on a voluntary land conservation strategy to protect these last two privately owned parcels along the Ka Iwi coast. One year ago, The Trust for Public Land bought the property from a liquidated development firm for $3.65 million, financing its interim purchase through low-interest loans to meet the landowner’s firm closing deadline and compete with other back-up development offers. Funding for the purchase by Livable Hawai‘i Kai Hui was provided by the City Clean Water and Natural Lands Program, $2.5 million; the State Legacy Land Conservation Program, $1 million; and private donations. 

“I am so proud to be part of a national organization like The Trust for Public Land that has the capacity and expertise to make historic conservation efforts like this one happen,” shared The Trust for Public Land’s Advisory Board Member Carol Wilcox. “As paddlers and east Honolulu residents, my husband, myself, our children and grandchildren all care deeply about this beloved cultural landscape and coastline. To have played a part in such an inclusive community effort has been truly inspiring.”

Led by Ka Iwi Coalition, Livable Hawai‘i Kai Hui and The Trust for Public Land, the purchase and protection of the land would not have been possible without the grassroots advocacy by thousands of individuals. During the summer of 2015, the communities of east O‘ahu, including local businesses and many generous individuals from across Hawai‘i and the nation, rallied together in a historic show of aloha by raising over $600,000 from $1,600+ individual donors in under four months. The private funds raised supported the purchase and future care of the land.

The fundraising campaign culminated in a spirited event attended by hundreds and organized in three weeks by five humble Waimānalo families that form the group Nā Kuaʻāina o Waimānalo. “We heard and felt the need to answer the kāhea, the call, to protect the highlands of Awāwamalu from the ever-encroaching arm of development. We banded together with the many conscientious in the community and were successful. Now and forever, this ʻāina in Waimānalo will be here for the countless to enjoy,” said Kari and Kalani Kalima of Nā Kuaʻāina o Waimānalo.

“Over a decade has passed since Save Sandy Beach asked Livable Hawai‘i Kai Hui to continue their work protecting this area. We were honored then and have taken their legacy seriously. The community is grateful for the partnership with the State of Hawai‘i, the City and The Trust for Public Land in helping the community achieve its vision. We will remain vigilant in keeping the Ka Iwi coast in its wild and natural state,” said Elizabeth Reilly of Livable Hawai‘i Kai Hui.

What Else Community Members and Long-Time Volunteers Had to Say About This Historic Announcement

“Ka Iwi Coast has always been a special place to me and my late husband Bill, our children, our grandchildren and now our great-grandchildren. My husband and I volunteered with the community in the early days to keep these lands undeveloped and open for everyone to enjoy. It is a dream come true to see the last of the threatened lands protected and to know that the entire Ka Iwi Coast will remain just as it is now – forever.” - Betty Daly, Ka Iwi Coalition Member

"I am humbled and proud to be a part of the efforts of all communities that have worked together to preserve the natural beauty of the Ka Iwi Coastline and scenery. Waimānalo appreciates being a part of this area and we are thankful for its beauty.” - Wilson Kekoa Ho, Waimānalo Neighborhood Board President and Ka Iwi Coalition Member

“We are extremely humbled to help the community protect the last two threatened parcels along Ka Iwi Coast. Ka Iwi Coast is where I spent my weekends growing up, where my husband and I walked before he proposed and where I take my kids for sunrise. I am in awe of the many that felt kuleana for this place, and never gave up.” - Laura Kaakua, The Trust for Public Land's Native Lands Project Manager

“My parents were involved with the Save Sandy Beach Initiative in the 80s, and now to be a part of the final effort to protect Ka Iwi Coast Mauka Lands and to see it succeed means so much.” - Sara Daly Hamakawa, Ka Iwi Coalition Member

“There is a saying, ‘We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children.’ I hope the children in future generations know we, as a committed community, did right by them on keeping the wild and free Ka iwi mauka and makai lands in their natural state.  Our work has been guided by our kupuna, they are always with us, and their mana runs through Ka Iwi - and it will be there in perpetuity, like the beauty of Ka Iwi, for all to experience.” - Anne Marie Kirk, Ka Iwi Coalition Member

Frequently Asked Questions About the Ka Iwi Coast Mauka Lands

Wasn’t the Ka Iwi Coast/Sandy Beach already saved?  Sandy Beach and much of the 7-mile Ka Iwi coastline are in State or County ownership thanks to past community efforts in the ‘70s to protect the lands at Awāwamalu/Alan Davis Beach from resort development, and in the ‘80s and ‘90s to save lands around Sandy Beach. Two parcels on the mauka side of the highway that total 182 acres known as the Ka Iwi Coast Mauka Lands remained in private ownership.  In recent years, private developers had threatened golf course and vacation cabin development of these mauka lands that are part of this scenic and culturally important coastline.  In 2015, Livable Hawai‘i Kai Hui and The Trust for Public Land raised funds to purchase and conserve these last two privately owned parcels along Ka Iwi coast.  It was not until March 31, 2017 that the mauka lands were protected in perpetuity from development. 

How were the Ka Iwi Coast Mauka Lands protected?  For over a decade, Livable Hawaiʻi Kai Hui through its Ka Iwi Coalition members were vigilant and rallied against successive golf-course and vacation cabin development proposals.  In 2012, these community groups enlisted the help of national non-profit The Trust for Public Land, to work on voluntary land conservation strategies.  The Securities Exchange Commission sued the private developer that owned the land and the court appointed a receiver in Utah to sell the land to pay of the developer’s creditors.  The Trust for Public Land was able to negotiate a land purchase agreement with the Utah receiver.  In 2014, Livable Hawaiʻi Kai Hui and The Trust for Public Land jointly applied for State Legacy Land Conservation Program and City and County of Honolulu Clean Water and Natural Lands Program funding, and later raised private funds to purchase the property.  Over 1,600 generous donors and volunteers stepped forward in a historic fundraising campaign raising over $600,000 in under four months.

In March 2016, The Trust for Public Land took out a low interest loan to purchase the property because the receiver was not willing to extend the closing deadline for sale of the land, public funding sources were not ready to release the funds to purchase the land, and other private developers had submitted credible back-up offers to the receiver. The Trust for Public Land took the risk of financing the purchase through a low interest loan because it did not want to give up this once-in-a-lifetime chance to extinguish all future development threats on this land, and finally complete the conservation of this 7-mile coastline that the community had fought so hard to preserve.

On March 31, 2017, The Trust for Public Land conveyed the land to Livable Hawaiʻi Kai Hui, subject to State deed restrictions, and a conservation easement co-held by The Trust for Public Land (as Administrative Holder) and the City of County of Honolulu that will ensure the land will never be developed. 

Is The Trust for Public Land working to conserve other lands in Hawaii? YES! The Trust for Public Land is currently leading 16 conservation efforts across Hawaii Nei. Examples of current projects on O'ahu include Kanewai Spring, Pu'ukua, Helemano Wilderness Recreation Area, and Hakipu'u Lo'i Kalo. Examples of neighbor island projects include Kaunamano and WaipaIf you would like to learn more about and support The Trust for Public Land’s land for people mission and work throughout the Hawaiian Islands, please contact Leslie Uptain at 808-781-5181 or leslie.uptain@tpl.org.


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