At the recent 2018 annual awards and membership meeting of the Conservation Council for Hawaii, former Kauai mayor and county councilmember JoAnn Yukimura was honored for her lifetime commitment to activism and public service.
The crowd of about 200 people on Oahu recognized Yukimura for her understanding of the aina and wai. It was noted that at a very early age she made a commitment to focus on protecting Kauai’s agricultural lands and open spaces through wise land-use planning and management.
Among her achievements cited in a press release, Yukimura:
• Successfully worked in opposition to suburbanization of Kilauea’s agricultural lands after the sugar plantation closed;
• Rallied the Niumalu-Nawiliwili tenants to stop the building of condominiums and a floating restaurant on Alekoko (Menehune) Fishpond;
• Fought a proposal to build 1,500 resort units (three, 500-room hotels) in the beloved open space of the area north of Hanamaulu known as Nukolii;
• Worked with citizens of Kilauea and the Trust for Public Lands to secure and protect 140 acres, including Mokolea Point and Crater Hill, that would eventually become part of the expanded Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge;
• Co-founded the Kauai Public Land Trust that later merged with the Hawaii Island Land Trust, and immediately succeeded in protecting oceanfront parcels on the North Shore of Kauai.
She was first elected to office when she was 26 years old, and since spent 41 years in public service. She served as mayor of Kauai, and four terms on the County Council, before leaving her council post due to being termed out.
She started the county’s first recycling and composting projects, at the same time working on securing Kauai’s plastic grocery bag ban. And, she served on the organizing board of the Kauai Island Utility Cooperative, the first and only electric utility cooperative in the state, which continues to set records for renewables.