Announcements: November 18, 2020

  • Courtesy image Hawaiian Electric employees are raising funds for United Way chapters in three counties through sales of the “Stay Home, Cook Rice — A Pandemic Limited Edition” cookbook.

  • The Hawaiian Islands Land Trust purchased in 2017 a second conservation easement from Honolulu Coffee Company Farms LLC, placing 225 acres above Kealakekua Bay under protection. (Courtesy photo/Special to West Hawaii Today)

HILT secures federal conservation partnership

Hawaiian Islands Land Trust (HILT), a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that protects, stewards, and works to connect people to the lands that sustain Hawaii, has formed a new partnership with the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service Agricultural Conservation Easement Program that opens up millions of dollars in federal funding for the protection of agricultural land use throughout Hawaii.


This partnership provides opportunities for farmers, ranchers, and the possibility of expansion for fishpond stewards throughout Hawaii to preserve their lands in perpetuity for the production of local foods, with wide-ranging impacts including food sustainability, community resilience, and ecological health.

An agriculture conservation easement is a legal agreement between a private landowner and a land trust or government agency that places permanent restrictions on the land to protect its agricultural resources and use. Landowners can receive significant funds for placing a conservation easement on their land. Last year, federal agricultural conservation easement funds protected over 360,000 acres of agricultural lands nationwide — none of them in Hawaii.

“This partnership will encourage greater local food production, and support local farmers, ranchers, fishpond stewards and forward-thinking landowners,” said Laura H.E. Kaakua, CEO of HILT. “Other states have brought in millions of dollars in federal agriculture conservation easement funding to secure their local agriculture lands, but Hawaii has not been able to regularly tap this federal funding resource until now.”

Selling conservation easements provides funds for farmers, ranchers and fishpond stewards to invest in their operations, and makes farming more affordable by bringing down the land value to a true agricultural price. State, county and private donations have already protected lands such as the MAO Farms’ Palikea parcel on O‘ahu, and large sections of Ulupalakua Ranch on Maui, and Puu o Hoku Ranch on Molokai. NRCS funding is expected to accelerate statewide landowner efforts to make agricultural production in Hawaii more feasible.

“In the years to come, HILT expects federal agricultural conservation easement funds to bring much-needed relief by giving farmers, ranchers and fishpond stewards significant funds in exchange for their development rights, and peace of mind in knowing their lands will always feed Hawaii,” said Shae Kamakaala, HILT’s Director of Aina Protection.

To date, HILT has protected more than 21,500 acres — 2,100 acres are HILT preserves open to the public, and over 18,000 acres are protected via conservation easements restricting privately owned lands.

Keahole Center for Sustainability opens for public tours

Jeahole Center for Sustainability, the nonprofit providing guided, public tours at NELHA’s Hawai‘i Ocean and Science Technology Park is resuming public tours starting today.

Tours begin at HOST’S iconic Gateway Energy Center, Hawai‘i’s first certified LEED Platinum resource-efficient building. Easily visible from Queen Ka‘ahumanu Highway, the center offers displays about HOST tenants.

Guests will learn how the center is cooled by cold, deep-sea water pumped ashore by the Natural Energy Lab of Hawaii Authority (NELHA) and how HOST cutting-edge businesses and research operations are utilizing the nutrient-rich water to create products. The activity also shares how HOST facilities are working to protect and restore our unique ocean inhabitants.

On-site fun includes a visit to the world’s largest operational Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC) power plant, the HNEI Hydrogen Fuel Station, the HATCH Accelerator, Hale Iaco business incubator and Keahole Point.

Tours are 10 a.m. to noon on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays — excluding holidays. Participation is limited to small groups and wearing of a face mask is mandatory. Participants are encouraged to bring water, wear sunscreen and a hat.

Register online at For more information, visit

Hawaiian Electric publishes fundraiser cookbook

Hawaiian Electric employees are raising funds for United Way chapters on Oahu, Maui County and Hawaii Island through “Stay Home, Cook Rice,” a pandemic limited edition cookbook.

The all-new edition is priced at $14 and includes more than 160 recipes contributed by employees and retirees, their families and friends. From slow-cooked meals to Instant Pot favorites, these kitchen-tested recipes can be enjoyed any day of the week. The cookbook also includes helpful energy-saving tips for the home and a handy kitchen measurement conversion table.

“Although we need to maintain social distance during the pandemic, food is a great way to connect and our employees wanted to share recipes that have been helping them get through these unprecendented times,” said Bob Krekel, Hawaiian Electric business process and continuous improvement manager, and employee fundraising committee chair. “We hope to raise funds through cookbook sales that will help support individuals and families in our community who are struggling to make ends meet every day.”

The ubiquitous rice can be found in such dishes as Baked Sushi, Mom’s Chinese Rice Cooker Chicken, and Pumpkin Risotto, while an Instant Pot makes quick work of popular dishes such as kalua chicken, pot roast, and even spaghetti. For those with special dietary needs, find gluten-free, vegetarian, paleo- and keto-friendly recipes.

All proceeds from the cookbook sales will benefit Aloha United Way, Maui United Way and Hawaii Island United Way, which together are helping unite people, organizations and resources to transform lives and create stronger, healthier, and more resilient communities.

To purchase a copy of “Stay Home, Cook Rice,” visit for an order form; call (808) 543-4601 or email Cookbooks can only be mailed within the U.S., and USPS Priority Mail rates will be applied. Delays may be due to the pandemic.



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