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DLNR details community planning process for Honolua Bay

By Staff | Nov 20, 2014

WEST MAUI – Early last month, the purchase of Lipoa Point was finalized. The state acquired approximately 250 coastal acres from Maui Land and Pineapple Co. along the rugged northwest shoreline stretching from Honolua to Honokohau for $19.5 million.

It was a dream come true for our community and the extended international ohana – Hawaiians, surfers, snorkelers, voyagers, environmentalists, sailors and open space advocates – that love Honolua and pristine points north.

But now what?

How will this valuable natural, cultural, historical and recreational resource be managed, protected and preserved by the state in perpetuity for all of us?

That’s the big question; and, at an informal meeting held last week Thursday at Princess Nahienaena Elementary School hosted by the state Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR,) Maui District Land Office, the community heard the answer: in stages!

And there were a handful of state officials in attendance to answer questions the larger Honolua community had, including Sen. Roz Baker; Daniel Ornellas, DLNR Maui District land agent; Larry Pacheco of the DLNR Maui District Office; and Ian Hirokawa, special projects coordinator with DLNR’s Land Division.

Stage one is maintaining the status quo, Ornellas told the approximate 50 Honolua Bay enthusiasts at the meeting.

Ornellas described the land in question. “Right now, the status is, this is unencumbered land it is basically raw land. We have no water improvements, no drainage, no sewer, no infrastructure. We got the road; we got some guardrails; we got some gates. That is pretty much all that is onsite. There is no offsite or onsite infrastructure,” he said.

“Along the walk into the bay,” Ornellas continued, “we gonna trim trees. That is happening. Next after that is going to be signage, but I will get your guys’ input about the signage. After that, going to be the railings and boulders (along the surfers’ access road). Other than that, we don’t have any other plans. Just those three major items that we can handle with existing funds.”

Permits are not needed for this type of work.

“All we gonna do is place the stones, put up fencing for the site, put a sign in. In our estimation, that is not a significant change in the overall environment,” Ornellas observed.

Longtime Save Honolua Coalition President Tamara Paltin summarized for the Lahaina News, “The state will be taking measures to limit their liability while maintaining access to the public. A certified arborist will help to identify and remove dead or hazardous trees at the bay entrance as well as Punalau/Windmills area. Regulatory and advisory signs will be put up soon also some plastic barricades and boulders will be going up to block off the more dangerous parts of the surfers’ access road cliff.”

The Kainas – Aunty Orpha, Silla and DeeAnn – were present giving voice to cultural considerations, including the signage.

DeeAnn asked for a meeting before signage is installed. She considers the language important.

“These place names; there is a significance to our culture. We need to respect that. We all need to understand that. It is not just about surfing; it’s about the elements,” she said.

Another attendee had questions about the protection of the marine life: “Are you going to put up signs about cigarette butts or harmful sunscreens? Cigarette butts – turtles eat them Sunscreens have certain chemicals in them that are not organic that kills the reef.”

Ornellas was quick to respond in the positive. “We will have a meeting to discuss signage. When that will take place, I’ll get to you guys. I’ll put it in the newspaper; get it on the radio. We’ll talk about signage; that I guarantee you I will do,” he said.

Trash is a major point of contention.

Although the services of a contractor will be engaged to remove the trash on an interim basis, caution in this quarter is advised.

“That is the critical measure,” Ornellas stressed. “People really got to step to the plate, because the number one thing that gonna make us change the way we handle business out there is if the trash piles up. We don’t have the staffing to be sending men out there every day to pick up stuff. The easy answer is close the gate. We don’t want to close the gate; too many gates close. If the community can step to the plate and help us help you, the gate not gonna be closed. That is basically how it goes.”

Snake Ah Hee added his two cents. “All you guys that go surf Honolua Bay, clean it up. Take your guys’ opala with you. It’s our beach.”

Hirokawa was present to answer questions about stage two: planning.

“I was at the meeting to assist in explaining the future plans for management of the Lipoa property (specifically, seeking funding from the legislature to conduct long term planning, etc.),” he told the Lahaina News in an interview after the meeting.

Hirokawa explained his connection.

“Part of my duties involves working on land acquisitions by the state, so I was involved in the initial acquisition of the Lipoa property from Maui Land & Pineapple, Inc.

“Another part of my job,” he continued, “is working on legislative matters, so my involvement with Lipoa continued by assisting with the upcoming request to the legislature to allocate general funds for the long-term management of the property. The funds would be used to provide the state with the information necessary to determine the appropriate strategy for the long-term management of the Lipoa property for the benefit of the public.”

“Really,” Ornellas added point blank, “the next step is to get that appropriation to do that formal planning. So the legislative session starts in January; appropriation could be done by May; expenditure by July.”

Community participation is important

The Hawaiian Island Land Trust was represented by Executive Director Edward (Ted) Clement, who commented, “The Hawaiian Islands Land Trust and its good partners, such as the Save Honolua Coalition and Aha Moku Council, stand willing and ready to help with a community-based management plan process for the Lipoa Point land area that the state just purchased from Maui Land & Pineapple Co.

“Now that the acquisition has occurred, we must work together to ensure this land will be properly stewarded and protected in perpetuity (by implementing good stewardship practices, looking at putting a perpetual conservation easement on the land, etc.),” Clement added.

Paltin is pleased with the progress.

“Save Honolua Coalition has done some baseline community planning and looks forward to working with the state, the community, the Aha Moku Council and the Hawaiian Islands Land Trust to find the balance in taking care of this place with respect to Native Hawaiian practices and values, so that the public’s access is maintained.”

“The community is going to be involved throughout this whole process. Beginning to end, and today is the beginning,” Ornellas concluded.