Jan 06, 2011

Kalahui Hawaii: New Land Trust Established to Preserve Natural Environment

The four county land trusts have been merged into a single organization thereby strengthening conservation and protection of lands and natural environment, which have a special significance in the cultural heritage of Native Hawaiians.

Below is an article published by Hawaii 24/7


Four existing conservation land trusts representing all counties within the state are combining to form the Hawaiian Islands Land Trust (HILT), a new statewide land conservancy. Official on Jan. 1, 2011, the merger creates an organization with the sustainability and resources to safeguard existing protected lands and dramatically grow conservation lands in Hawaii. Participating in the collaboration are Kauai Public Land Trust, Oahu Land Trust, Maui Coastal Land Trust and Hawaii Island Land Trust. 

Driving the decision to merge were shared missions and a combined vision for a cohesive and sustainable approach to land conservation in Hawaii. “Our passion is preserving land, our promise is to protect it forever,” said HILT Executive Director Dale Bonar, former ED of Maui Coastal LandTrust. “By joining forces we are a stronger and more professional organization capable of sustaining that commitment of perpetuity.” 

Each organization’s conservation easements and fee lands are now securely held by Hawaiian Islands LandTrust. Combined, HILT oversees 15, 229 acres of conservation land across the state, including: 188 acres on Hawaii Island; 11,810 on Maui; 3,057 on Molokai; and 174 on Kauai. Fundamentally, the merger boosts the organization’s capacity to save more land. Because of its statewide scope, HILT is in a better position to attract the broad financial support and resources needed to significantly increase local conservation lands. 

Collaborative and non-partisan by nature, Hawaiian Island Land Trust’s strength is its ability and willingness to work with a host of governmental agencies and other conservation nonprofit organizations. Currently in active negotiations with landowners on Kauai, Oahu, Maui and Hawaii Island, HILT expects to announce thousands more conservation acres within the first quarter of 2011. The Hawaiian Islands Land Trust central office is based initially on Maui. 

To continue to best serve the communities in which they work, island offices will be maintained by existing island directors on Oahu, Kauai and Hawaii Island. All employees have been retained by HILT, creating a staff of 10. “In some cases, entire operations of an island were falling on one person. A tremendous benefit of our collaboration is that now each staff member can be more highly specialized within his or her skill set,” Bonar said. From its inception, Hawaiian Islands Land Trust has national accreditation. A mark of distinction in land conservation across the nation, the status was originally earned by Maui Coastal Land Trust in 2009 and conveys to the new organization. 

In Hawaii, land is our most important and valuable resource. Its conservation helps ensure clean air and drinking water, food security, scenic landscapes and views, recreational places, and habitat for a diversity of ecosystems. Land conservation in Hawaii is especially imperative due to the added significance of inseparable cultural relationships and our intrinsic space limitations. Hawaiian Islands Land Trust is a nationally accredited nonprofit organization with the mission of acquiring, preserving and protecting conservation lands across Hawaii for the benefit of the natural environment and current and future generations. [...]