Mayor Charmaine Tavares has proposed four grants totaling $1.7 million from the fund, which sets aside 1 percent of property tax collections for land preservation and acquisition. Other projects include buying land for a beach park on Molokai; 196 acres of Molokai watershed; and an easement to preserve taro loi in Keanae.
“This is a testament to how important it was to establish an Open Space Fund,” Tavares said this week.
She announced the projects in her annual budget proposal March 14. The grants must be approved by the Maui County Council before they can be awarded.
The proposals for allocation would involve acquisitions by the county or two nonprofit trusts. The proposed allocations from the Open Space Fund would be for:
• Nuu lands and wetlands, $220,776. Maui Coastal Land Trust would combine the county grant with matching funds to acquire 78 acres from Kaupo Ranch, preserving wetlands and dune systems and providing public access to the Nuu Landing area.
• Morris Point, $700,000. Maui County would acquire a 7.4-acre parcel at the east end of Molokai, also known as Murphy’s Beach or Kumimi, for use as a beach park.
• Kawaikapu Ranch, $480,000. Molokai Land Trust would combine the county grant with matching funds to purchase 196 acres of endangered watershed on southeast Molokai.
• Keanae taro loi, $350,000. Maui Coastal Land Trust would combine with matching funds to acquire a perpetual easement on 6.3 acres of private taro fields in Keanae.
Maui Coastal Land Trust Executive Director Dale Bonar said the Keanae easement would preserve historic taro loi, even if the land were sold by its owner in the future.
“The land will continue to be there and used the way it’s used now,” he said. “It’ll be permanently protected. It can’t be subdivided; the loi will always be there for use.”
The parcel includes a taro patch reputed to be the original Keanae taro loi, where taro for the alii was grown.
“It’s supposed to grow enormous kalo,” he said.
The Nuu lands include what University of Hawaii researchers found was “one of the best wetlands in Hawaii,” he said. The marsh lands are home to Hawaiian stilts, coots, ducks, nene and other birds, and are mostly native vegetation, he said.
The dryland area is also historic, with numerous archaeological sites; Nuu Landing was once used by Kaupo paniolo to “hoau pipi,” or swim cattle to boats for shipping.
“Anyone you know who likes ulua fishing will know Nuu Landing,” Bonar said, who added that the public would continue to have access to the shoreline areas popular for fishing and camping.
The shoreline land abuts the 4,300-acre Nuu Ranch property acquired by Haleakala National Park. While the land trust expects to work with the park service in preserving the cultural and natural resources of the coastal region, Bonar said the Nuu Landing area would not be part of the park and would be managed by MCLT.
Maui Coastal Land Trust also has federal, state and private contributions lined up to complete the $4 million purchase.
“As soon as this piece is in place we’re ready to close,” Bonar said.
• Ilima Loomis can be reached at email@example.com.
Mayor Charmaine Tavares has proposed allocating $220,776 from the county Open Space Fund for the Maui Coastal Land Trust to acquire 78 acres at Nuu in East Maui, including this wetland area. The property is among four being sought as open space acquisitions in the mayor’s proposed budget, which calls for spending $1.7 million from the Open Space Fund.
Maui Coastal Land Trust photo