Protecting Public Lands

Residents testify against the PLDC at public hearing

“It is dangerous to put public lands in private hands,” said Molokai resident Kauhane Adams. Yet it seems that this is exactly what legislature created the Public Land Development Corporation (PLDC) to do when they passed senate bill Act 55 in 2011 that established the corporation.

The PLDC’s intent to “generate additional revenues for the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) by developing under-utilized or unused public land,” according to a written statement circulated by the PLDC.

Homesteader Adolph Helm claimed that the PLDC would allow “fast-track boondoggle projects that benefit the private developer and the pockets of the well-connected [while] stripping Native Hawaiian beneficiaries of trust lands.”

Sentiments against the advancement of the PLDC have echoed throughout the state at similar meetings hosted by the PLDC last month on Hawaii Island, Maui, Oahu and Kauai. These public hearing meetings were meant to gather community feedback on its proposed new administrative rules, but have largely resulted in Hawaiians calling for the repeal of Act 55 and the disbanding of the PLDC.

Who determines what is best for the land?
PLDC’s Executive Director Lloyd Haraguchi opened the Molokai meeting, held last week at Mitchell Pauole Center, with an example of an “unused public land” — an abandoned school building that, in addition to being a safety hazard, is not being used to the best of its ability. The space could instead be developed to generate additional revenue to benefit the Department of Education, said Haraguchi.

Providing Relief for Molokai Homestead Farmers

By Rep. Mele Carroll

This session I introduced House Bill 1483, which directs the Department of Agriculture (DOA) to provide water to Molokai Irrigation System users who lease tracts of land at a reduced rate. It also requires the DOA to forgive past due water bills for the provision of irrigation water for Molokai homestead farmers.

With this challenging economy, the hardship of our Molokai homestead farmers is real and I feel that we need to provide some relief to our farmers so they can continue to economically survive during these most trying times.
House Bill 1483 was advanced by the Committee on Hawaiian Affairs on Feb. 4, and will now advance to Joint House Committees on Agriculture and Water, Land & Ocean Resources for consideration.

The Molokai Irrigation Ditch was created for the homesteaders to be used for agricultural purposes, per an agreement made between the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands, the homesteaders and the Department of Water Supply. That agreement called for sufficient water be given to the homestead farmers to be used for their farming. As the years have progressed, the federal mandate that homesteaders be given two-thirds of the water allotment has seemingly lost its strength or forgotten altogether.

Archive planned at national park

KAHULUI – A new archive of thousands of documents that will be available to researchers, will be the next major addition to Haleakala National Park, Superintendent Sarah Creachbaum said Wednesday.

In a “state of the park” talk sponsored by the Friends of Haleakala National Park, Creachbaum said construction had already started on the small “curatorial center” near the park’s entrance and headquarters. About 30 people showed up to hear the presentation at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center, where Creachbaum also discussed the park’s visitor counts and funding.

Matt Brown, the park’s new chief of protecting endangered species, said the 800-square-foot archive building will bring together many objects that have gone unseen for years. Many of the items will be coming out of storage and some from collections, such as the Bishop Museum in Honolulu, he said.

In addition to being held in the archive, the pieces will occasionally be put on display in public buildings around the grounds of the 96-year-old park – as they are already from time to time. The archive center itself generally will be off-limits to the public and require park authorization for access, Brown said.

The collection has about 197,600 objects, 96 percent of which consist of archival records, such as documents and photographs, said P. Russell Shurtz, museum technician for Haleakala National Park.