Endangered shrub on Kalaeloa land complicates land transfer
Development Authority weighs cost of protecting endangered plant
The Navy has offered to transfer land that known as the Northern Trap and Skeet Range into state hands.
The catch is, the Kalaeloa land is home to an endangered plant-- the akoko shrub.
Board members of the Hawaii Community Development Authority took a tour of site to get a firsthand look at what's at stake.
"If HCDA were to receive conveyance of this particular lot there would be a deed restriction that we undertake a specific conservation plan including regular water source, fencing and labeling," said HCDA executive director Tony Ching.
Protecting this small, fragile and --not very showy-- shrub would be expensive.
The state would have to keep the area clear of all the ground cover.
HCDA already owns another parcel where a cultural park is taking shape.
A non-profit group aligned with the Hawaiian Civic Clubs has been working to protect and identify important archeological sites.
There are 11 so far, including a rare intact trail built in the Tahitian style-- significant because of the style of vertical stone structures.
The area is noted for a system of underground caves and sinkholes that Hawaiians used for farming.
"You look around here. There is no water, no top soil. The only thing is you couldn’t see it. It traveled as a traditional river did. Only thing is, it’s underground," said Shad Kane, whose non-profit Kalaeloa Heritage and Legacy Foundation has permits to operate the cultural park.
And while protecting the significant coral structures is high on HCDA list, so is development.
The agency is moving ahead with getting critical roads, power and water in place.
One thing about Kalaeloa is that the military used to supply all of the utilities. HCDA is working with Hawaiian Electric to build a new transmission plant.
“The significance is a new substation would be the first link of bringing Hawaiian Electric power into this district," said Ching.
There is much to balance--as the landscape of Kalaeloa is transformed.
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