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Tuesday, October 1, 2013
UPDATE: Outdoor Circle Questions Plan for Trails Ringing Kawainui Marsh
By News Release @ 12:33 PM :: 6631 Views :: Honolulu County, Environment

Kailua NB Unleashes Marsh P.I.G.

News Release from Kailua NB, October 6, 2013

The Kailua Neighborhood Board has established an investigative committee to gather information and make a recommendation concerning the public participation process that was utilized in the State's preparation of the plan for the development of the Kawainui Marsh.

The motion adopted by the Board at its meeting of October 3, 2013 reads:

"The Kailua Neighborhood Board (KNB) establishes a Permitted Interaction Group (P.I.G.) to investigate the conduct and conclusions drawn related to the public participation programs and activities in the preparation of the Master Plan for the Kawainui Marsh, and develop recommendations on how the process should move forward. The P.I.G. shall make a report on its findings to the KNB at its meeting of November 7, 2013, and any recommendations shall be scheduled for a vote at its meeting of December 5, 2013. All activities shall be conducted in accordance with the City and County of Honolulu Neighborhood Plan, and the applicable provisions of the State of Hawaii Sunshine law (HRS. Chapter 92-2.5). The P.I.G. Chairperson shall be Doug Dudevoir. The other members of the P.I.G. shall be Levani Lipton, Ursula Retherford and Mike Gallagher."

The Board's desire for an investigation stems from the apparent discrepancy between comments and testimony given by a number of Kailua and Statewide organizations and the actual design and provisions of the State's draft plan. A sense of urgency was also created when the State's consultant announced that an Environmental Impact Statement Preparation Notice (EISPN) was already being worked on as a step to implement the plan.

Charles A. Prentiss, Ph.D.


  *   *   *   *   *

News Release from The Outdoor Circle September 30, 2013

Over the last few years, a draft of the revised Master Plan for Kawainui Marsh has been presented at community meetings and public hearings sponsored by State Parks, DOFAW and their paid consultants.

Each meeting began by acknowledging the marsh's Ramsar designation as a wetland of international importance, the role it plays in flood control, its essential habitat for four of Hawaii's endangered waterbirds, and its historic, archaeological and cultural significance.

The pictures on the screen always showed a broad expanse of low lying land under a clear sky with a line of blue ocean in the distance. Often, superimposed on this idyllic scene were images of the endangered 'alae 'ke'oke'o, 'alae 'ula, koloa maoli and the ae'o or Hawaiian stilt.

But this picture has changed in the most recent draft of the Master Plan. Consultants Helber Hastert & Fee are now offering the public drawings of landscaped parking lots, pavillions, boardwalks, trails and buildings. These ring the periphery of the marsh beginning at the entrance bridge to Kailua, following a trail behind the neighborhood to Ulupo heiau then below the neighborhood along Church row, past the newly built Army Corps of Engineers Ponds, along Kapa'a Quarry Road, down to Mokapu Blvd and, if the proposed bridge is built, back along the levee to Kailua Town. Public access and recreation are key components of the plan as well as sites for select stewardship groups to manage cultural and educational centers.

Education and access to the marsh for Hawaiians to engage in cultural practices have been supported by the community. But many are asking if buildings and pavement within the marsh are best for the future of the wetland. Unregulated access to the marsh has already led to damage of archaeological sites. Trails will attract dog walkers and dogs can devastate the nests of endangered birds. Building educational and cultural centers require bulldozing the land and although steps have been proposed to prevent run off, most of the sites are upslope and will flood and overflow in heavy rain events. Sediment runoff would harm the aquatic life that feed endangered birds.

But the consultants argue that the trail system, parking lots and buildings are needed to service local and international visitors who will be better able to appreciate the marsh and it looks like DLNR might support a visitor destination modeled after Haunama Bay or the Polynesian Cultural Center because they believe development and tourism will attract funding.

Certainly, DLNR needs more money for staff, maintenance and enforcement and it is impressive what they are doing with the limited resources they have. But DLNR would be the first to tell us that run-off from parking lots is harmful to the wetlands and that removal of vegetation to make way for buildings creates another set of environmental problems.

Before we get carried away with putting more buildings, roads, parking lots and trails in the marsh, perhaps we can all step back and ask: If we build this, will the water be cleaner in 50 years, will the number of endangered waterbirds increase, will our children still have a beautiful and wild wetland to explore and will the Hawaiian community still have a marsh that does justice to the spirit of Hauwahine, the legendary mo'o who assured there would be enough to eat if the marsh and fishponds were properly maintained?


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