Letters for Sunday, June 19, 2011

• In memoriam, Alaloa in Lepe‘uli • Collaboration required

In memoriam, Alaloa in Lepe‘uli

Today, we honor the memory of the coastal Alaloa in the Ko‘olau District of Kaua‘i.

The Alaloa has served as an important cultural and social path, connecting families, farms and heiau, to resource gathering areas, canoe launches and fishing spots. Ever since there were two valleys of people on Kaua‘i, there was a coastal trail connecting the populations. The Alaloa served the community through hundreds of years and many tsunami events. Between Moloa‘a and Kilauea, the Alaloa accessed important limu kohu beds and fishing areas. The Alaloa was warmed by the patterns of many bare feet.

In more recent times, the Alaloa fronted Kilauea Sugar plantation fields, and was used by plantation workers to go fishing. The public Schoolhouse Road from Ko‘olau Elementary School in Lepe‘uli brought school kids daily to the Alaloa in Lepe‘uli some from as far away as Anahola. Kilauea Plantation Manager L. David Larsen (responsible for the stone buildings on the National Register of Historic Places in Kilauea) built his summer beach house along the Alaloa in Lepe‘uli and hosted many fishing parties.

During World War II, the Alaloa connected coastal bunkers and served as an important perimeter supply route and staging area for island-wide fencing. In less than six months, over 10,000 rolls of barbed wire were strung on the beaches of Kaua‘i to protect from an imagined Japanese invasion from over the reefs. The Alaloa carried many soldiers from Moloa‘a Marine Camp to the Hanalei camps on daily maneuvers.

During the 1950s and 1960s, locals and plantation workers used the Alaloa to go fishing and pull limu. Ko‘olau School children had picnics and graduation parties along the Alaloa in Lepe‘uli. After the closure of Ko‘olau Elementary, Schoolhouse Road was locked up. Larsen’s Beach Road and right-of-way (Lot 4) were sold to the county, but the Alaloa still carried most people to Lepe‘uli beach and points beyond. Many fishermen use the Alaloa to check fish from Moloa‘a, Lepe‘uli, Waipake and Pila‘a.

In the past three years, the Alaloa has been judged as bad. Don Wilson, Waioli Corporation attorney, maintains that all the “‘problems’ at Larsen’s come from the lateral trail.” As Jessica Rabbit once said, “I’m not really bad; I’m just drawn that way.” The Alaloa is not bad and should not be fenced off. The Alaloa is an important archaeological and cultural site. The Moloa‘a segment of the Alaloa is state archaeologic site 50-30-04-1033, contiguous to a 700-year-old site and is an important piece of Kaua‘i’s pre-history. On the Waipake side, the state recognizes the coastal Alaloa connecting kuleana and archaeological sites.

The Alaloa was fenced off in Lepe‘uli, May 23.

Paradise Ranch has erected this fence in what the community believes is the Conservation District. Paradise Ranch produced a map showing the fence-line within inches of the Conservation District boundary, state law specifies the boundary must be determined by the state if development (fencing in this case) is within 50 feet of the CD boundary (HRS 13-5-17). The state Land Use Commission has not located this boundary yet. Paradise Ranch has erected the fence to close off the Alaloa, effectively killing lateral travel on this important ancient coastal trail. The memory of this trail must not be forgotten.

The coastal Alaloa in Lepe‘uli is part of an island-wide lei of trails circumnavigating Kaua‘i, and connecting with mauka/makai trail systems. Removing one segment of this network of trails leaves this system broken an non-functional, but not forgotten. The mana of 1,000-year-old cultural by-way cannot be removed. A trail made by the feet of our grandparents will not be eliminated and forgotten.

This illegal fence, blocking an ancient public trail, should be removed as soon as possible.

Fenced, but not forgotten.

Tim and Hope Kallai, Moloa‘a

Collaboration required

The flurry of letters about KIUC’s ballot focuses upon several shortcomings: 1) the lack of clarity, accountability, and transparency in entering into an MOA which includes an entity from the east coast which attached a FERC approach to “study” the possibility of establishing a hydro-power delivery system exclusively in KIUC’s portfolio; 2) the flawed process to engage in an appropriately facilitated public meeting which should have allowed for neutrality and a comprehensive approach to present the “pros and cons” of the issue; and 3) the decision to unilaterally prepare and send that ballot to the rate-payers without due process to arrive at and agree upon how that ballot should be worded.

For these reasons, in spite of well-intended attempts to explain the purposes and intents of KIUC’s position, the shortcomings are equivalent to “painting oneself into a corner” which are, of course, the mistakes that have been made.

There are too many questions left unanswered. There are other approaches and considerations which may be viable in the pursuit of establishing hydro-power on Kaua‘i. To get out of that corner, it is necessary to admit the mistakes that have been made and to start over. Have not some of our greatest lessons learned come from the failures we have experienced? 

Let’s not forget: we’re in this together, and where and how it is possible to consider the realm of possibilities to incorporate hydro-power on Kaua‘i, that effort requires our collaborative efforts.

Jose Bulatao Jr., Kekaha


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