Land trust seeks to sustain culture

LIHUE — Preserving public access and habitat restoration at sites like Kahili Beach Preserve on the North Shore are just part of the goals of a nonprofit committed to protecting state land from development.

“The work that we do is trying to identify where are these places that sustain and how can we protect them for future generations,” said Angela Anderson, Kauai island director for the Hawaiian Islands Land Trust.

Anderson was the keynote speaker at a Lihue Business Association program at Duke’s Canoe Club on Thursday in front of about 15 people.

Founded in 2011, HILT has protected 18,000 acres in the Aloha State from development and continues to expand its efforts.

On the island, the nonprofit protects about 220 acres on the North Shore, including 17.63 in Kahili, known more commonly as the area part of Rock Quarry.

“In order to protect (land) in perpetuity, it has to be the entire community on board that this place is worth protecting,” she said, “getting out there with the students that use the place, teaching them about the place, teaching the stories and the place names and connecting them to the place.”

The Kahili Beach Preserve started with a donation of five acres and later expanded with an additional 12.2 acres, with the help of the county and funding from NOAA.

On April 1, HILT plans on holding a volunteer day at the preserve.

“It’s all about getting people out on the land, telling them about the history of the land trust, the history of the area and what we see the future will be with their help,” Anderson said.

HILT will introduce a process called huli‘ia during a talk story session at 10 a.m.

“The community members become the citizen scientists,” Anderson said “They do so with a hat more from a cultural perspective: how it is you are in a place and how you come accustomed to the rhythms of that place.”

The goal is to integrate that practice with regular volunteers.

“All the information they gather in the future will help HILT form its management decisions,” she said. “We understand that our plan now may have to change because of the realities of, well, maybe there will be less rain and maybe these certain plants aren’t the best plants to plant because they can’t survive there anymore.”

In order to protect land, HILT works with landowners to create a conservation easement, a voluntary agreement between both parties that ensures conservation of the land in perpetuity.

“One of the benefits of working with conservation easements is that the management really stays in the hands of the landowner,” Anderson said. “We do site visits to each of our easements once a year. We check every year to make sure what’s been promised is what’s taking place on the property.”

The agreement allows HILT to continue to grow the properties that are in protection, in collaboration with landowners.

HILT also works with landowners in Kilauea, protecting 150 acres; Waiakalua, 18 acres; and Wai‘oli II, 39 acres.

“The management of an easement goes to the landowner … we enforce with the landowner,” Anderson said. “What we can do on our properties in collaboration with our landowners is to mobilize volunteers to do cleanups. For example, we partner at Kahili with the Kilauea Neighborhood Association when we first were able to acquire that land.”

Anderson said HILT is dealing with future transactions to expand land protection on the island.

“Until we have solid agreements, we don’t come public with the transactions,” she said. “There are multiple ways that we are involved with conservation transactions. Sometimes they’re generated from the community input.”

Anderson said HILT is working with the open-space fund with the county’s open-space commission to help generate projects through that fund.

“Ideally, we want to move beyond (the North Shore),” she said.

For more information on volunteer day, email


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