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Puna land purchase advances

Hawaii County will consider purchasing 165 acres of Puna land under its open space land-buying program.

The County Council Finance Committee voted in favor Tuesday of purchasing the old coastal village of Wai‘ele, located between Nanawale Forest Reserve and Kahuwai Village, after it was submitted to the Public Access, Open Space and Natural Resources Preservation Commission.

Puna Councilwoman Ashley Kierkiewicz said the site has “hundreds of intact cultural features” that the county will be able to better preserve should it purchase the property through PONC.

The 165-acre land includes 2,000 feet of shoreline, freshwater springs, kukui, hau and hala groves, endangered species such as ‘io and ‘ope‘ope‘a, ancient Hawaiian burial sites, and an ancient stone trail.

According to a resolution proposing the village’s purchase, the site has been largely undisturbed since the 1880s.

Kierkiewicz said the neighboring village, Kahuwai, has similar cultural features, and is owned by Kamehameha Schools. Because of this, she said, the county has the opportunity to work with Kamehameha Schools to generate cultural education and conservation programs for students.

Wai‘ele is one of several Puna places on the PONC’s prioritized poll of potentially purchasable properties, and has been recommended to the PONC by members of the public since 2006.

Since 2006, the county has purchased 16 properties via the PONC fund, which currently has at its disposal $21 million, which must be used to purchase lands for purposes of outdoor recreation or the preservation of historic, cultural or natural sites.

The Finance Committee voted 7-0 in favor of the purchase, with two council members excused. The matter now proceeds to the full County Council.

Email Michael Brestovansky at
Source: Hawaii Tribune Herald

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