Gov. Neil Abercrombie announced Thursday that an agreement has been reached between the State of Hawaii, City and County of Honolulu, The Trust for Public Land, and Turtle Bay Resort to establish a conservation easement on 665.8 acres of land at Turtle Bay Resort in Kahuku.
Portions of this land had previously been planned for development but will now be protected forever from future development.
“As I said in my State of the State Address this year, ‘there are times for planning, and there are times for acting; now is the time to preserve open spaces at Turtle Bay,'” Gov. Abercrombie said. “This historic agreement is the result of public and private interests joining together to benefit the people of Hawaii and our visitors. This protects the heritage and rural character of the North Shore to ‘Keep the Country Country.'”
State Sen. Clayton Hee said, “The shoreline from Kahuku Point to Kawela Bay represents one of the most beautiful and pristine areas on all of Oahu. As elected leaders, we have a profound and solemn duty and responsibility to preserve and protect this shoreline for future generations just as our ancestors did before us.”
“I have always been a supporter of the preservation of the North Shore and the state’s long-term effort to protect the natural beauty of the North Shore and Windward communities,” said Sen. David Ige. “I am pleased that, with the support of Senator Clayton Hee, negotiations have continued to move forward to this point after the Senate initially took action on this issue in the form of SB 894 last session. This settlement agreement is an example of how collaboration between the State, City and County, and private sector can result in a successful outcome when all stakeholders involved work together.”
“Today’s agreement is an example of collaboration and compromise for the greater good and I am grateful to all of those who worked together to make this a reality,” said Rep. Richard Fale. “I hope today isn’t the end of this community collaboration. There is still an opportunity for this agreement to yield benefits across the community if general obligation funds can be secured to maximize community benefit from the resources within that community and also offer a fiscally responsible and self-sustaining source of funding to improve infrastructure, especially in our schools. This is particularly important to our district because our rural schools often struggle to get the financial support they need.”
The conservation easement will be placed upon the land and will permanently limit use of the land in order to protect the ecological, recreational and open space characteristics of Oahu’s North Shore. The Turtle Bay Resort will continue to own, use and hold title to the land, but it and future owners of the land will be bound by the restrictions. The easement will protect, and in many cases, allow restoration of critical marine and land ecosystems and Hawaiian cultural resources. It will foster and enable recreational and educational uses of the land.
The total value of this agreement is $48.5 million; $40 million will be provided by the state, $5 million will b e provided by the city, and $3.5 million will be provided by The Trust for Public Land. The amounts of money provided by the state and the city are subject to appropriation and release of the funds. Gov. Abercrombie has previously asked for and encourages the Legislature to appropriate $40 million in general obligation bonds.
The City Council has previously appropriated $5 million for this matter. The Trust for Public Land will be obtaining funds from various sources. The final documents and details of the agreement are to be worked out between the parties.
“We are excited to be a part of the stewardship to protect these natural resources and to secure forever the public’s access to that entire shoreline from Kawela Bay to Kahuku Point,” said Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell. “We want to thank the state for its leadership in this effort and to the people around the table who worked hard to make sacrifices and to find common ground. The work is not yet complete, but we can see the light at the end of the tunnel.”
Honolulu City Council Chair Ernie Martin said, “The City Council has constantly demonstrated its commitment to land conservation as evidenced by the Fiscal Year 2014 budget appropriation of $5 million to preserve Kawela Bay. Protecting such a valuable natural resource on the North Shore today is an investment that will reap dividends for generations to come.”
This agreement benefits the public in many ways, such as preserving open space and providing public access to beaches in the area at no charge. It also allows public access to more than five miles of coastal hiking trails and opens up the area for traditional native Hawaiian cultural practices. In addition, the agreement keeps recreational use available to the public and prevents the sprawl of urban development in the area.
“This historic conservation agreement is supported by The Trust for Public Land, The North Shore Community Land Trust and many community organizations, residents of the North Shore and people from all over our island, along with visitors who enjoy and treasure the area,” said The Trust for Public Land, Hawaiian Islands State Director Lea Hong.
Turtle Bay Resort Chief Executive Officer Drew Stotesbury said, “As a part of the North Shore community, Turtle Bay Resort is proud to contribute to the conservation of these unique lands.”