KAILUA-KONA — DLNR Chair Suzanne Case has notified Hawaii County Mayor Harry Kim of the state’s termination of a grant agreement with the County that would have provided $1.33 million in matching funds for the acquisition of over 300 acres of private property that formerly reached the Waiʻopae coastline in Puna.
New lava flows have covered this land. The lava flows also filled the adjacent tide pools, reef and ocean waters that formerly made up the Waiʻopae State Marine Life Conservation District (MLCD), and continue to form new, state-owned land makai of the former coastline, according to the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR).
In 2016, following recommendation by the Legacy Land Conservation Commission and approval by the Board of Land and Natural Resources of an award from the state for the acquisition, the state and the county executed a Legacy Land Conservation Program Grant Agreement, according to DLNR.
The agreement requires the awardee to use the funds for land acquisition for the preservation of resources values as stated in the project application. The resource values outlined in the county’s grant application cited the property’s mix of rare native lowland forests, anchialine pools, and the pools and forests that filter water from agricultural areas and residential areas before it reaches the ocean and the bordering Marine Life Conservation District. These resource values are now gone, the department said.
“I am saddened by the loss of this special place on the Puna coast, which was so beloved by the community,” said Theresa Menard, commission chairperson. “But, it no longer makes sense to move forward with the purchase given the dramatic changes in the public benefits we hoped to secure.”