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From our friends and ‘ohana at Sierra Club Hawai’i Chapter:

In a 7-1 vote last week, the State of Hawaii Land Use Commission approved Castle & Cooke Homes Hawaii, Inc.’s proposed reclassification 767 acres of farmland to the urban district. Castle & Cooke proposes to build thousands of new homes and a medical complex at Koa Ridge between Mililiani and Waipio.

The Sierra Club, Hawaii Chapter, as a party to the case, asked the Commission to deny the reclassification because the project would adversely impact an already congested highway and prime agricultural lands.

“Castle & Cooke’s plan for Koa Ridge is the epitome of urban sprawl,” said Robert D. Harris, Director of the Hawaii Chapter of the Sierra Club. “When we’re importing 85 to 90% of our state’s food, it’s absurd to pave over land that has been consistently and profitably providing food for O`ahu.

The Sierra Club brought expert witnesses before the Commission earlier in the year that testified about the detrimental impacts of losing nearly 800 acres of some of the best farmland in the state. Even Castle & Cooke’s own expert noted that the Koa Ridge proposal would develop approximately 5% of O`ahu’s remaining prime farmland (soil rated “A” and “B” under the ALISH system). The State Department of Agriculture testified that fifty percent of O`ahu’s prime farmland had been paved over in the past fifty years.

“Diversified agriculture increased 475% between 1990 and 2004,” said Harris. “There has been a resurgence of interest in eating in a local and sustainable manner. But if we want further growth in agriculture, we need to have the farmland.”

There are other anticipated demands on farmland, like growing bioenergy, which will require thousands of acres of farmlands with a ready supply of irrigable water. “It’s a slippery slope,” Harris continued.  “As we develop more agricultural land, it drives up the cost for the remaining parcels and makes it more difficult for other farmers to grow local.”

One knowledgeable scientist testified that University of Hawaii faculty researchers are concerned O`ahu will lose its capability to feed itself unless large farmlands like Koa Ridge were preserved. “We’re just one hurricane away from starving,” said Harris.  “We’re dangerously reliant on food from being shipped into O`ahu. Preserving and growing agriculture in the State is a matter of basic food security.”

Other witnesses testified about the surplus of land already proposed for development in Central O`ahu and the negative impact of increased traffic on folks traveling along the H-1 corridor. The state’s traffic expert testified that the peak “rush hour” traffic could extend bottlenecks on the H-1 freeway potentially from as early as 5:00 am in the morning and similar hours in the evening.  The H-1 already has a grade “F” designation, the worst service traffic level.

The Sierra Club believes that the housing demand can be met without sprawling on more agricultural lands in Central O`ahu. Existing urban areas in Central O`ahu, such as Wahiawa and Waipahu, should be redeveloped. Further, over 13,000 units of housing have already been approved on over 1500 acres of agricultural land for new growth in Central O`ahu. Although the developer claims that new land must be developed to meet growing demand, population in some surrounding Central O`ahu communities actually decreased between 1990 and 2000.

O`ahu is hitting some real limits to growth. We need to start redeveloping built areas instead of paving our finite and precious farmlands,” said Harris. “Particularly with plans for over 13,000 new housing units already on the books for Central O`ahu, it’s outrageous that the Commission would authorize new development of the best agricultural lands in the state.”

For more information, you can check out Sierra Club on the web at http://www.sierraclubhawaii.com/media.php

And here’s coverage from back in May of part of the LUC hearing on Koa Ridge: http://the.honoluluadvertiser.com/article/2010/May/21/bz/hawaii5210320.html

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From Marti:

The Defend Oahu Coalition is looking to you to help keep the country country.  A developer is close to receiving the last set of permits necessary to proceed with a massive resort complex on the North Shore. Your participation can help to protect Oahu’s shorelines from construction and the rural character of this community. Take a look at their update below and please try to attend their community meeting tomorrow evening 6:30 pm at Kahuku High School Cafeteria.

TURTLE BAY TALKSTORY II

Tuesday, Dec. 8th at 6:30-9:00
Kahuku High School Cafeteria

From Defend Oahu Coalition:

This is the second in a series of Community Forums regarding the future of Turtle Bay. The City’s Department of Permitting and Planning is reportedly very close to issuing final subdivision permits to the developer at Turtle Bay which will allow him to move ahead with the outdated plan for five additional hotels and one thousand more resort condominiums. The State Supreme Court is set to hear Oral Arguments regarding the Keep the North Shore Country case asking for a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement.

The existing property is formally changing owners this month, who are reportedly working on a new business model for the resort. This is a crucial time to get updated about the current situation. Efforts aimed at building on plans for preservation as well as sustainable land use enforcement at City and State levels will also be addressed.

Notable speakers invited to attend include: Governor Lingle, Representatives Abercrombie and Hirono, Mayor Hannemann, Turtle Bay Advisory Working Group Chair Bill Paty, Senator Clayton Hee, Councilmember Donovan Dela Cruz and Interim Developer for Kuilima Resort Company Stanford Carr. The moderator for the evening will be Dee Dee Letts, a member of the Ko’olauloa Neighborhood Board and longtime community activist.

Click here to learn more from the DOC.

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From:  Andrea

U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii is soliciting community interest in creating a Restoration Advisory Board as part of the Military Munitions Response Program for two sites near the U.S. Army’s Pohakuloa Training Area.  The motivation for the Restoration Advisory Board is to enable community participation in environmental issues on previously used military training sites.

Currently, the focus of the Restoration Advisory Board would be the remedial investigation of two response sites:  the closed Humuula Sheep Station and the Kulani Boys’ Home.

The Board will be formed if enough community interest is expressed.  The Board would be composed of community members, government representatives, and other stakeholders.  The Board members would attend meetings and review and comment on plans and reports related to the investigation.

For more information or to request an application, contact:

Environmental Divison

MMRP Program Manager

Director of Public Works, USAG-HI

948 Santos Dumont Ave.

Building 105, 3rd Floor, WAAF

Schofield Barracks, HI 96857

Phone:  808-656-3109

Fax:  808-656-1039

*Applications must be postmarked or emailed by August 14!

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From:  Andrea

The U.S. Coast Guard removed 32 tons of debris from the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands over the Fourth of July weekend.  Much thanks to the Coast Guard for ameliorating the health of our oceans!  See the Honolulu Advertiser article:

http://www.honoluluadvertiser.com/article/20090713/BREAKING01/307130004/U.S.%20Coast%20Guard%20removes%2032%20tons%20of%20debris%20from%20Northwestern%20Hawaiian%20Islands?GID=e/Si+j1sOYkNlMXAMxQScaqw1wgB5/Nurtn+5iNvNh8%3D

While I am glad that efforts to clean up marine litter are taking place, especially in such an  irreplaceable, nationally protected locale, 32 tons is only the tip of the iceberg.  The scale of this problem is vast.  Marine litter filling our oceans is a global problem affecting all people and nations.  Marine litter, of which 80% are plastics, harms marine life, degrades human health, and results in tremendous social, economic, and cultural costs.

The United Nations Environment Programme recognizes this immense ocean dilemma that affects everyone.  In April 2009,   the UN Environment Programme released a report titled “Marine Litter:  A Global Challenge.”  Find the report at:

http://www.unep.org/pdf/UNEP_Marine_Litter-A_Global_Challenge.pdf

“There is an increasingly urgent need to approach the issue of marine litter through better enforcement of laws and regulations, expanded outreach and educational campaigns, and the employment of strong economic instruments and incentives,” the report says.

The report also notes that the “overall situation is not improving.” Thank you, Coast Guard, for your part.  But, we must do our part, too.

What can you do to help reduce marine litter?

  • Keep streets, sidewalks, parking lots, and storm drains free of trash to prevent washing trash into the ocean and waterways.
  • Take reusable items- and less trash and throw-away containers- to the beach.
  • At the beach, be sure to recycle what you can and throw the rest of your trash into trash cans.  Do not leave trash or anything else, like plastic toys or containers, at the beach when you leave.
  • Pick up debris that other people have left; recycle what you can, and throw the rest away in a trash can.
  • When fishing, take all of your nets, gear, and other materials back onshore to recycle or dispose of in a trash can.
  • If you smoke, take your butts with you, disposing of them in a trash can.
  • When boating, stow and secure all trash on the vessel.
  • Participate in local clean-ups.  Here’s one resource:  http://www.adoptabeachhawaii.com/
  • Reduce, reuse, recycle.
  • Serve as an example to others.

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We heart Kealoha Pisciotta and we’re excited to have her in town! We’ll be talking story and sharing `awa at StudioBe in Chinatown with Kealoha on July 25, 2008.

She’ll be speaking and screening excerpts from Mauna Kea: Temple Under Siege, a film by Na Maka o ka `Aina. We’ll be talking with Kealoha about her experiences and activism in protecting of the sacred summit of Mauna Kea from development. Today, the IFA and a consortium of international institutions has a multi-million dollar proposal to build the largest telescope in the world on the last pristine plateau of Mauna Kea.

`Awa Circle + Talk Story: Sacred Landscapes
Friday, July 25, 2008
7PM to whenever pau
at StudioBe
corner of Beretania + Smith
63 N. Beretania St., 2nd Floor

A Hilo girl, cultural practitioner and former telescope tech, Kealoha’s tireless activism has helped to protect Mauna Kea’s sacred summit from unmitigated telescope development. She is the president of Mauna Kea Anaina Hou.

Mauna Kea, on the island of Hawai’i, is sacred as an elder ancestor and kinolau (physical embodiment) of spiritual deities. The summit area is also ecologically unique, and home the endemic weiku bug, which feeds on insects blown to the summit by updrafts.

Today, thirteen telescopes and support facilities crowd the sacred landscape of Mauna Kea. Even after 30 years of community opposition, a consortium of institutions led by the UH Institute for Astronomy (IFA) continues to propose new telescope construction. Today, over 1,000 individuals regularly drive to telescopes on the summit, leaving behind some 500,000 gallons of human waste toxic chemicals such as ethylene glycol and liquid mercury over the Big Island’s only aquifer.

13 of the richest nations in the world currently pay only $1 per year for their use of the sacred summit.

Construction has damaged and leveled the peaks, spewing dust and facilitating human intrusion that is wreaking havoc on this fragile and unique Hawaiian ecosystem. These impacts, coupled with the introduction of invasive predatory arthropods, are decimating populations of the wekiu bug, one of 11 endemic and imperiled species that call the mountain home.

“If we say yes to more development, we are saying yes to the desecration of our temple and our ancestors, yes to the destruction of our waters, and yes to the possible extinction of life itself.” – Kealoha Pisciotta

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By now, most of everyone has heard the news of the surprise announcement of the Molokai Ranch shut down. On the last days events, a few words to share from from Kahualaulani on Molokai:

We are still sorting it all out over here. And while it is a shock, it is not really a surprise…Molokai Ranch’s true colors have finally been shown. They have played the “employee card”: they couldn’t shove their unwanted development down the throat of this community, so now they will take it out on their own workers, while blaming the development opposition for the “need” to do this.

Indeed, the Ranch states in their press release: “Unacceptable delays caused by continued opposition to every aspect of the Master Plan means we are unable to fund continued normal company operations.” But this is so not true. The community did not object to “every aspect” of the Plan; the community objected to the Laau development aspect of the Plan. We have been consistent from the start in saying the there are many good parts of the Plan (and the community put a lot of work into creating those parts), but that developing Laau is unacceptable to the large majority of this community.

laau-protest-with-surfboards.jpg

We have also been consistent in saying to Molokai Ranch and Plan supporters, lets all come back to the table and find solutions to this issue: let’s find real alternatives to this development, and other types of economic engines besides development. They chose not to listen, and to to try to ram-rod their project through. Wrong idea. And now they are bringing their oft promised/threatened “doomsday scenario” down on this community – by laying off their workers and starting to sell-off their lands. What a mean-spirited and cruel reaction to not getting their way (‘I’m taking my ball and going home!”) They have already sold half of Na’iwa (the ancient makahiki grounds) and Ka’ana (the birthplace of hula) looks to be next…

But let’s be clear here: all the “delays” were caused by Molokai Ranch’s own decisions: by making this whole thing into an “all or nothing” “take it or leave it” thing (either take/accept the Plan with Laau development, or no Plan); by choosing not to listen to this community saying ‘”A’ole Laau” (No to laau!); and by voluntarily withdrawing their shoddy EIS after massive community and LUC opposition to it, (and thus having to return to a draft EIS stage). They were also seriously “delayed”/affected by two recent Supreme Court Decisions – one that took away their allocation of potable water, and the other that neutralized their preferred method of transporting it. (But I don’t hear them blaming the Supreme Court!)

The sentiment in the community is that we feel deeply for the workers who have lost their jobs, and we will support them in whatever ways we can: by trying to find them new jobs, or by creating new jobs with better economic engines, and by helping to provide food during this time. Molokai takes care of her own.

But also, we see this as a great opportunity to bring stewardship of this island back to the people of Molokai. We were already working on various solutions before this happened: from investors with more appropriate endeavors, to the UPC windfarm, to conservation buyers, to buying the Ranch, to a combination of all of the above. Now we are going to push to bring those kinds of things to pass if we can.

laau_point.jpg

It was a historic day yesterday, but now, with your help and continued support, we might truly be able to make history. This island has a chance to have economic, energy, and food independence – a truly sustainable and self-sufficient community. A hub of sustainable agriculture, environmental stewardship, Hawaiian culture and aloha. We can Ho’i i ka Pono! We can truly Keep Moloka’i, Moloka’i!

(first photo from rmayda on flickr, second from Paula Kawal.)

Links to articles:

Molokai Ranch Shutting Down (MPL Press Release)
http://www.themolokaidispatch.com/node/1837

“Doomsday” Has Arrived (Molokai Dispatch)
http://www.themolokaidispatch.com/node/1851

Mayor Tavares And Molokai Council Member Mateo Respond To Ranch Closure (Molokai Dispatch)
http://www.themolokaidispatch.com/node/1841

Lingle Focuses On Molokai Ranch Employees, Island’s Economy (Molokai Dispatch)
http://www.themolokaidispatch.com/node/1840

Molokai Ranch Shuts Down (Molokai Times Article and community and reader’s comments)
http://www.molokaitimes.com/articles/8324115936.asp

Molokai Ranch to quit island (Honolulu Star Bulletin Article)
Stung by rejection of its planned luxury project, the owner will lay off 120 staffers and seal off the land…”
http://starbulletin.com/2008/03/25/news/story01.html

Molokai Ranch to close, lay off 120 (Honolulu Advertiser Article)
http://www.honoluluadvertiser.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080325/NEWS01/803250367

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From Marion:

Last week, KAHEA submitted written testimony to the State Land Use Commission in opposition to “the proposal by Molokai Properties Limited to build 200 luxury estates at La’au Point” which will negatively impact the environment and culture.

Our comments point out that: although there is overwhelming scientific evidence supporting that the main Hawaiian Islands serve as foraging and breeding grounds for monk seals and millions of dollars for research and monitoring have been set aside, little has been done by the state and federal governments to permanently protect habitat — like that La’au point. The truth is that the single most important action we can take to save monk seals is provide them places of permanent pu`uhonua, true and forever sanctuaries. Monk seals survive best when left alone in a place where humans do not dominate the landscape, in sanctuaries marked only by the presence of blowing sands and waves crashing against jagged lava formations at the water’s edge.

Further, because “Molokai is one of a few communities that still have resources to sustain traditional subsistence”, they need to be honored and protected to ensure the perpetuation of these traditional practices of gathering for their families and communities. The reason why these practices still remain today have to do primarily with the fact this shoreline is undeveloped and difficult to access.

The proposed development will limit access to this 5-mile stretch of coastline by providing only two points of entry, one at each end of the proposed coastline development even though the “state law requires that public access to the shoreline be available every quarter mile” which is clearly not honored in this proposal.

The Molokai community has voiced their undying concern regarding the relentless and greedy development plans of Molokai Properties Limited. The community has no interest in having a community split and culturally and socially restricted by the influx of big money. Today, they are standing up, protecting their inherent rights to collect what they need from the mountains to the oceans that keeps their culture alive.

hawaii-luxuryx-large.jpg

To make this place no more than a picture postcard tropical beach destination is to strip it of its most fundamental and uniquely Hawaiian identity. We stand together with communities on Molokai to share the view that the sea, land, culture, and people remain vital in marking this land as a Hawaiian place.

Click here to read comments on the EIS:

KAHEA’s comments in opposition to the development at La’au Point

Office of Hawaiian Affairs’ Comments on the development La’au Point

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