The state’s Legacy Lands Conservation program is providing $4.5 million in grants for the purchase and protection of culturally and agriculturally important lands on the Big Island and Oahu.
The money is expected to be matched by $7.6 million in federal, county, and private funding.
The grants are supported by revenue from the state’s land conveyance tax. Ten percent of the tax proceeds each year go to the Legacy Land Conservation Fund, where the grant money is taken from.
The state said Friday the commission overseeing the program selected four projects for funding this year.
They include agricultural land at Kaiholena in North Kohala, agricultural land near Turtle Bay Resort on Oahu’s North Shore, and the Hawea Heiau Complex and the Keawawa Wetland site in Hawaii Kai.
Four land conservation trusts from across Hawaii are merging to create a statewide organization dedicated to protecting land from development.
The Hawaiian Islands Land Trust officially begins operation on New Year’s Day.
It’s being formed by the merger of the Kauai Public Land Trust, Oahu Land Trust, Maui Coastal Land Trust and Hawaii Island Land Trust.
The groups said in a statement Friday the merger puts them in a better position to attract broad financial support and save more land.
The headquarters of the combined origination will initially be based on Maui. Existing offices will be maintained on Oahu, Kauai and Hawaii islands.
All employees are being retained, giving the combined group a staff of ten.
Several nonprofit organizations, a state agency and three local counties have been awarded $3.3 million from a state land preservation fund to protect 753 acres on the Big Island, Kauai, Molokai and Oahu.
The money from the Legacy Land Conservation Program will be matched with about $9.5 million from federal, county and private sources to acquire land or protective easements for public benefit.
Seven projects are being financed, including four land purchases totaling 25 acres and three easements covering 728 acres.
Laura Thielen, chairwoman of the state Board of Land and Natural Resources, said the fund provides an efficient way to protect land containing important natural, cultural or agricultural value. “By providing these grants as incentive, the state is utilizing mostly private and federal funds to protect these resources,” she said in a statement announcing the awards.