Transfer of land confirms preservation commitment

The Molokai Land Trust has received the deed to a 5-mile stretch of remote and environmentally sensitive coastline along the rugged north shore of Molokai that has endangered ferns, subsistence gathering areas and an extensive tidal pool system, the trust announced Monday.

The 1,719 acres is known as the Mokio Preserve, which stretches between the Moomomi Preserve boundary and the state’s Ilio Point parcel.

The gift from Molokai Properties Ltd. was initially offered in April 2008. It took more than four years to complete the subdivision and the land in fee transfer, a news release said.

But during those four years, the trust, along with government agencies and community and private groups, had been improving the area and adding programs.

“The land transfer to the trust is evidence of MPL’s commitment to partner with community-based groups to protect significant legacy lands,” said Rikki Cooke, president of the board of trustees for the Molokai Land Trust. “Now that we own the land, and we can expand our efforts to preserve and restore Mokio for future generations.”

In 2008, MPL signed a letter of agreement to transfer Mokio to the trust. Under the terms of the agreement, the trust will retain ownership of the land in conservation in perpetuity.

In 2009, the trust signed a 99-year lease so that it could develop plans and begin land restoration.

The Mokio Preserve contains numerous koa or fishing shrines intact with offerings along with large ancient adze quarries and habitat complexes. The ecosystem includes bird nesting locations and more than an acre of ‘ihi ‘ihi lauakea, estimated to be the largest remaining site of this endangered endemic Hawaiian fern in the islands.

Although formalities were not reached until recently, the trust has partnered with federal, state and private organizations to bring dune restoration near the state’s Ilio Point parcel.

The trust also has worked with others to restore wildlife habitat and to reduce erosion of its interior lands as well as implemented an access system for island residents to support traditional subsistence activities.

The trust has partnered with local schools to provide service-learning opportunities for students.

Development of a native plant nursery has enabled the trust to produce thousands of plants for its ongoing restoration projects at the preserve, and children and adults are actively involved in the restoration work, the news release said.

In 2010, the trust also had the Anapuka area, as well as all major trails, roads and restoration sites on the preserve, cleared of military ordnance.