Since 2001 the Maui Coastal Land Trust has been dedicated to protecting land from development. The trust has, according to the national Land Trust Accreditation Commission, met "national quality standards for protecting important natural places and working lands forever."
Maui Coastal Land Trust is the first in Hawaii to achieve accreditation from the independent agency formed by the Land Trust Alliance. Executive Director Dale Bonar worked for the alliance before coming to Maui. He said the accreditation process was created to assure the public and governmental agencies their money was going to be well used.
The Maui Coastal Land Trust has preserved nearly 4,000 acres of coastal and culturally significant lands in Maui County - nearly all of it by convincing owners to donate a conservation easement.
One piece of land owned and managed by the trust is the Waihee Coastal Dunes and Wetlands Refuge. The old Wailuku Sugar Co. dairy site has been cleared of invasive species, uncovered some of its archeological features, and is visited regularly by groups of students as part of the trust's educational efforts.
The trust can apply for grants from Maui County, which has an open-space fund made up of 1 percent of property tax revenues, but it relies mainly on private donations and is holding its big benefit of the year, the "Buy Back the Beach Lu'au," Saturday at Old Lahaina Lu'au.
The trust has five full-time employees, two working at the Waihee refuge and three in the office. There is one part-time education coordinator.
The Maui Coastal Land Trust works to assure future Mauians can enjoy lands free of development. It has achieved much in just eight years and plans to enrich Maui even more in the near future.
* Editorials reflect the opinion of the publisher.