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From our friends at the Trust for Public Land, an opportunity to participate in efforts to protect forever some of the last wild shoreline on Oahu’s North Shore. KAHEA continues to support the efforts of TPL and others, as a member of the Ko’olauloa-North Shore Alliance. We are one of a broad network of community and non-profit groups joining their voices and efforts together to protect this shoreline forever:

On the North Shore of O’ahu, the scenic property surrounding the secluded Turtle Bay Resort includes over 850 acres along the coast and 400+ acres mauka (mountain side) of the highway. The undeveloped areas feature some of O’ahu’s last slice of “country” — wild coastal beaches, surfing breaks, dramatic landscapes, traditional fishing areas, threatened green sea turtle and endangered monk seal habitat, small local agricultural lots, and Hawaiian ancestral burial grounds. The area is a natural treasure valued by residents and visitors alike as a rural refuge. We have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to save this slice of the real Hawai’i for today and future generations.

For more information, check out www.tpl.org/turtlebay

Kuilima Resort Company (KRC) and its parent company Los Angeles- based Oaktree Capital Management are pressing forward with plans to expand the footprint of the resort by building five new hotels and additional condominiums, adding over 3500 units (2,500 hotel rooms and 1,000 condos). The project has sparked broad concern from community, business, and governmental leaders.

However, the owner’s own financial difficulties and the recent downturn of U.S. financial markets has produced a “green lining.” Beginning last year, KRC failed to pay its creditors, resulting in a foreclosure lawsuit filed by Credit Suisse, representing dozens of U.S. and foreign lenders. Debt for the resort is currently being traded at a fraction of its face value.

In her January 2008 State of the State address, Hawai’i Governor Linda Lingle announced a bold initiative to acquire the property for the public, stating:

“(W)e can’t speculate or sell ourselves into prosperity, but I do believe we have an opportunity to purchase a piece of our future. I am proposing that we buy the 850-acre Turtle Bay property on O’ahu’s North Shore.”

The Trust for Public Land is part of a community, government, private working group formed by Governor Lingle to explore creative ways of financing such a purchase, and to form public-private partnerships to protect the property. More information on the Governor’s initiative including updates on the progress of her advisory working group is available.

The goal of the working group is to negotiate a voluntary conservation sale and acquisition, plan for the enhancement and long-term financial stability of the existing resort, seek innovative ways to create high-quality jobs with low environmental impact, and create a sustainable future for the North Shore. The Trust for Public Land is also part of the Ko’olauloa North Shore Alliance, a network of community and non-profit organizations supporting the initiative to protect this country “forever.”

You can help. Your donations and ideas are welcome. Please donate now to provide essential financial support to the acquisition initiative — and feel free to contact the Governor’s Advisory Working Group at TurtleBayAWG@gmail.com to contribute your ideas.

(photo from Keep the North Shore Country)

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