On this page, please scroll down to find: ~ LKOC History in Kawainui Marsh - 1950 to Present ~ LKOC Board Resolution Regarding Kawainui Marsh - February 2011 ~ LKOC Position on Kawainui-Hamakua Marsh Master Plan Project - Overview and Details ~ LKOC Alternative Master Plan for Kawainui-Hamakua Marsh - September 2016 ~ LKOC Comments in Response to DEIS for Kawainui-Hamakua Marsh Master Plan - January 2018 ~ DLNR/HHF Planners Response to LKOC comments on Kawainui-Hamakua Marsh Master Plan - August 2019 ~ LKOC Letter to DLNR re Kawainui-Hamakua Marsh Master Plan FEIS - September 2019 ~ LKOC Testimony to BLNR re Kawainui-Hamakua Marsh Master Plan FEIS - October 2019 ~ LKOC Public Position on BLNR Acceptance of Kawainui-Hamakua Marsh Master Plan FEIS - October 2019 ~ BLNR Sends FEIS Kawainui-Hamakua Marsh Master Plan to Governor for Approval - August 2020 ~ Publication of FEIS for Kawainui-Hamakua Marsh Master Plan - January 2021 ~ LKOC Files Challenge to FEIS for Kawainui-Hamakua Marsh Master Plan - March 2021
LKOC HISTORY IN KAWAINUI MARSH
The Lani-Kailua Outdoor Circle (LKOC) has been actively involved with the preservation and protection of Kawainui Marsh for the past 70 years. As a Kailua-based group of volunteers, we are committed stewards and stakeholders in this effort, with no vested interest other than its preservation as a wetland and wildlife refuge, as well as a significant cultural and archaeological site, important to understanding the historical roots of pre- and post-contact human presence in Hawaii.
LKOC’s involvement began in 1951, when we obtained a permit from the City of Honolulu Board of Forestry and Agriculture to begin clearing the area around Ulupo Heiau, to allow further archeological inspection. Our activity directly led to Ulupo being transferred to the Hawai’i Territorial Parks System.
Cultural and archeological sites, wildlife habitats, and the wetland itself exist in Kawainui today in large part due to our efforts. In the early 1960’s, Kawainui was privately owned, and LKOC successfully led the effort to convince the Honolulu City Council to purchase 749 acres of the marsh slated for development of a 4000-home residential complex. LKOC hired an architect/planner to develop plans for recreational and educational use, with an emphasis on cultural aspects of the marsh, in response to the City’s proposal for more active recreational use, including a small boat harbor, restaurant, and highway across the marsh, with no recognition of the cultural and archeological sites that would be destroyed. (shown in photo below).
In the early 1970’s, LKOC formed the Ad Hoc Committee for Kawainui. We were successful in stopping the development of an 88-acre shopping center in the Kahanaiki area of the marsh. We fought the Department of Public Works plan to implement a park concept using the marsh to accommodate 25 years of sanitary landfill (garbage). LKOC spearheaded the formation of the Kawainui Heritage Foundation in 1975 and the effort to declare Kawainui eligible for inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places. In 1976, LKOC petitioned the City to rezone approximately 250 acres of privately-owned land along the southern edge of the marsh, from Urban to Conservation, eventually resulting in 70 acres being rezoned in 1979. In the early 1980’s, LKOC convinced the City to relocate a sewer line from inside the marsh boundary to along Kalanianaole Highway and Kailua Road.
In the late 1980s, LKOC petitioned the city to void previously granted permits to build a light industrial complex on the Wai'auia (ITT) site, resulting in the state ultimately purchasing the property and the removal of the partially constructed buildings there. In 2004, LKOC was one of the original members of “Ho‘olaulima Ia Kawainui”, a network of conservation, native Hawaiian, educational, and community organizations who came together to assist with planning the future of the Kawainui-Hamakua Marsh Complex. In 2005, LKOC was a signed petitioner on the Ramsar Convention declaration of Kawainui as a "Wetland of International Importance".
In 2014, LKOC and the Audubon Society adopted one of the Corps of Engineer Ponds near the Mokulana Peninsula in the marsh to perform monthly endangered waterbird habitat maintenance under DOFAW supervision.
In 2016, an Environmental Impact Public Notice (EISPN) for the “Kawainui-Hamakua Master Plan Project” was put forth by the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR). It allowed for a 30-day review and comment period. The Plan provided for much needed restoration and stewardship activities, as well as allowed cultural practices to occur within this significant Hawaiian historical site. While many of the changes were beneficial, LKOC felt that it included an unacceptable number of buildings, restrooms, parking lots, pavilions, observation decks, boardwalks, trails, access roads, and structures in Kawainui’s forested/riparian areas, and that such development would be difficult to manage and be vulnerable to overuse. in response, to the EISPN, LKOC submitted extensive testimony to DLNR in opposition to the plan as well as its own extremely comprehensive plan, the “LKOC Alternative Kawainui-Hamakua Marsh Master Plan”, which included a more modest approach for development at each site including the use of traditional structures more in keeping with their intended purposes. At that time, LKOC also requested to be named as a consulting party in preparation of the Master Plan.
In December 2017, the DEIS was published with a 45-day review and comment period. In The January 2018, LKOC responded to DLNR with extensive testimony submitted in objection to the DEIS, including its failure to consider the LKOC alternative Plan. In October 2019, an FEIS was presented to the FEIS Accepting Authority, the State Board of Land and Natural Resources (BLNR), for their acceptance or rejection. LKOC testified as a consulting party at that meeting, where we asked that our LKOC Alternative Plan be rigorously considered by BLNR when reviewing the FEIS, as is required. We also asked that either the FEIS be revised to more comprehensively address environmental issues at the proposed construction sites upslope of the wetland, or that new Supplemental EIS documents be prepared for each of those sites. However, BLNR voted to accept the FEIS without addressing our request for further review, and further, voted unanimously to amend the FEIS to reintroduce a number of features from the DEIS that had been removed based on community input and environmental concerns, and send it back to the planners for amendment and revision.
In August 2020, a revised FEIS was sent by BLNR to the Governor for approval. It included reinstating larger building footprints for both the Cultural Center at Kapaa and the Educational Center at Pohakea as had been proposed in the DEIS, and the reinstatement of an additional .62 miles trails (at Kapaa and Mokulana Peninsula), 640 feet of boardwalk (at Kapaa), a 191 foot bridge and 2 viewing pavilions (at Mokulana), and 2 observation decks and 1 interpretive pavilion (at DOFAW Management Station area), all of which had been removed from the previous FEIS based on community input and environmental concerns.
In January 2021, the Governor's Approval of the FEIS was published by the OEQC in The Environmental Notice, which provided 60 days thereafter for injured parties to challenge a FEIS.
In March 2021, LKOC, as a decades-long leader in the protection and preservation of the marsh, joined two other like-minded organizations, Hawaii’s Thousand Friends and the Hawaii Audubon Society, as plaintiffs in a Challenge-Appeal of the FEIS approval in State Court asking for a claim for relief due to a variety of violations of the Hawaii Environmental Policy Act (HEPA), the Clean Water Act and various Articles of the Hawaii Constitution.
These are just a sampling of our involvement in the preservation of Kawainui Marsh over the years.
Note: Historical references to our above activities can be found at:
LKOC Resolution Regarding Position on Kawainui Marsh
Resolution of the Board of Directors The Lani Kailua Outdoor Circle 2/14/2011
Whereas: The Outdoor Circle has an established history of commitment to the preservation, enhancement and proper utilization of Kawai Nui Marsh, and
Whereas: an action was begun in 1975, during Lani Kailua Outdoor Circle's ad hoc committee for Kawai Nui Marsh, to obtain national recognition for the Kawai Nui Loko and its' abutting and internal features, and
Whereas: the Circle was represented in the State of Hawaii's development of the first Management Plan for Kawai Nui, signed by Gov. George Ariyoshi in March of 1983, and
Whereas: The Lani Kailua Outdoor Circle was a signed petitioner to the application to the Ramsar Convention to designate Kawai Nui Marsh as a "Wetland of International Importance," and
Whereas: the 1994 Master Plan for Kawai Nui Marsh opens the door to uses other than the marsh's natural purpose as a wetland and bird sanctuary, and
Therefore, Be It Resolved: that The Lani Kailua Outdoor Circlestrongly opposes overnight housing, food service, all commercial activities, and building construction in Kawai Nui Marsh Loko, and
Therefore, Be It Further Resolved: that The Lani Kailua Outdoor Circle opposes human access to the marsh other than that necessary for wetland restoration, archeological study, public education, maintenance, flood control, and security.
LKOC Position on the Kawainui-Hamakua Master Plan Project
In 2016, a Kawainui-Hamakua Master Plan Project was being proposed to provide for much needed restoration and stewardship activities, as well as allow for cultural practices to occur within this significant Hawaiian historical site. However, the proposed plan also involved the construction of numerous buildings, parking lots, and trails within the designated historic district and primary habitat of four of Hawaii's endangered water birds. While LKOC did not object to having a Hawaiian cultural presence there, nor object to the marsh restoration aspects of the plan (in fact, we applaud these efforts), LKOC did have grave concerns.
LKOC's primary concerns with the proposed plan were:
Modern structures: We feel modern structures are not necessary to achieve a cultural and educational presence in the area, and would prefer more traditional structures in keeping with the nature of their intended purpose.
Parking lots: We object to the introduction of numerous parking lots with their potential for future runoff and vehicular pollutant leaching.
Foot paths: We object to the extensive network of footpaths and their impacts on currently undiscovered archaeological sites, their proximity to endangered bird habitats, and impact on marsh hydrology due to the proposed causeway across the southern edge of the marsh lowlands.
Environmental surveys: Prior to any construction, we feel an archeological study, a water quality study, and an hydrology study should be done for the entire marsh, especially in the perimeter areas where structures will be built, areas which have had little or no recent assessment.
For a discussion of the community’s concerns about the plan, both for and against, including LKOC’s position, we invite you to read this Civil Beat article: Restoring Kaiwainui Marsh After Years Of Neglect Is Not As Easy As It Could Be https://www.civilbeat.org/?p=1357607
Details on LKOC’s Position on the Proposed Kawainui/Hamakua Marsh Master Plan
We have proposed that the following concerns be addressed in any plan regarding the preservation, restoration, and development of the Kawainui/Hamaku Marsh Complex:
Marsh Hydrology/Water Quality Kawainui-Hamakua is an integral part of the Kailua-Kapa'a watershed and is connected to a major and economically important public recreational resource - Kailua Bay - that relies on clean water. - The EIS needs to address the marsh in its broader context as part of the entire ahupuaa, including the watershed that feeds the marsh. To date, the plan includes no discussion of performing an hydrology study on the entire marsh and its mauka water sources. The EIS should require that such a study be done in order to acquire up-to-date information on the current workings of marsh hydrology. - Similarly, the EIS should require that an up-to-date water quality study be done for the entire marsh, prior to any construction, to better assess potential water contamination due to proposed development. - The EIS should identify instances when water from Maunawili Stream or sources outside of the pond boundaries entered the Corps of Engineer Pond system and what management efforts have or will be implemented to prevent the interchange of water between the natural and engineered wetlands. - The EIS should address pollution that enters the marsh from culverts and sheet flow runoff from Kapa'a Quarry Road. - The EIS should provide data on the size, location, materials etc of the proposed buildings, parking lots, structures, launch ramps etc., in order to better analyze their potential impact on marsh hydrology and water quality. - The EIS should address the fact that even an environmentally well designed septic system will leach contaminants over time and the Master Plan should be forward looking 50 -100 years.
Marsh Boundaries - The EIS needs to recognize that the riparian and upland areas abutting the marsh wetlands are an integral part of the marsh. To date, plan terminology indicates these development areas, while in the scope of the project, are 'not within the wetland', and development there is “unlikely to substantially increase pollution”, and does not appear [will] have a detrimental impact on the wetlands”. - The EIS needs to recognize and address that proposed development in these areas can have a significant effect on marsh health. - The EIS should have a Figure that shows the wetland designation boundary and a comparison/explanation of how its size and location have changed over time. Since DOFAW manages the riparian/upland forested areas, as well as the wetland area, all references to DOFAW Management Areas need more clarification.
Cultural and Educational Centers - The EIS should explain how it determines which cultural practitioner groups or individuals will have access to Kawainui-Hamakua for traditional practices. - If members of the public are restricted from using areas identified in the plan as areas providing for a “permanent cultural presence”, the EIS should identify the criteria used to select the “permanent cultural group or groups” and identify these areas in the plan. - The EIS should clarify what is meant by “traditional cultural practices” and include a discussion of how these practices can be addressed in Kawainui-Hamakua without the construction of modern walled buildings that use modern materials. - A good example of an Environmental Assessment that proposes a 'green' cultural presence, with no modern structures or parking lots, can be found for the Kaloko-Honokohau Hawaiian Cultural Center, with low-impact, open-air traditional (thatch and pole and dry-stack masonry) structures which maximize airflow and have zero-energy use shade structures, uses "zero discharge" composting toilets to keep human waste from entering natural water systems, and is a "green" facility, as it requires no water, treats waste biologically, is "zero-discharge", uses long-lasting construction material and has low power requirements (provided by solar panels). See site: http://parkplanning.nps.gov/document.cfm?parkID=312&projectID=15922&documentID=51479
Wildlife Habitat The proposed extensive footpaths encircling the marsh wetlands have the potential to adversely affect the wildlife habitat and endangered birds' nesting habits. The proposed trails will bring human beings in close proximity to previously remote nesting areas. The extent and incursion of these trails needs to be examined in more detail. - The EIS should identify the specific areas in Kawainui-Hamakua that are "state wildlife sanctuaries" and list a variety of controls that can be used to manage access, the number of people using a site, and the type of uses allowed. - The EIS should address whether or not, under what circumstances, and to what extent “visitors” would be allowed/permitted in the primary habitat. If access to primary habitat is regulated, what kind of regulations would be established and who would enforce the regulations? - The Plan states that within Kawainui, access to the wildlife sanctuary areas is “restricted to the perimeter marked trails and roads, or other marked trails or roads”. The EIS should identify how it will enforce this restriction.
Archeology The proposed extensive trails and other cultural/educational site location disturbance due to construction may be detrimental to existing and undiscovered archeological artifacts. - The EIS should require that a complete archeological study be done for the entire marsh, including the upslope areas, prior to any development being commenced.
Canoe Launch at Kawainui State Park Reserve - Kapa’a and Kalaheo Section - The EIS should identify the types and numbers of canoes that would be allowed to launch and what agency, organization or individual would make the decision on who could launch and/or use the facilities. - The EIS should identify the types of "commercial" and "non-commercial" watercraft besides canoes that could be permitted to launch at that site; the number that could be allowed to launch; and who and what agency or organization would make that decision.
Management, Maintenance, and Commercial Access - The EIS should clarify whether non-profit or for-profit contractors could be granted permits for management and maintenance operations in Kawainui-Hamakua. - The EIS should clarify whether limits could be placed on the size of these groups, and what type of oversight, if any, DOFAW/DSP staff would have on their work. - The EIS should identify the types of commercial permits allowed in Kawainui -Hamakua and the number of permits allowed per day per site.
LKOC Alternative Master Plan for Kawainui-Hamakua Marsh - Submitted October 2016
In response to the Environmental Impact Public Notice (EISPN) for the "Kawainui-Hamakua Master Plan Project", which was published September 23, 2016, and allowed for a 30-day public review and comment period, LKOC developed its own alternative plan, called "The Lani-Kailua Outdoor Circle Alternative Kawainui-Hamakua Marsh Master Plan".
Our plan was delivered to the DLNR and the current project planners (HHF Planners), on Oct 24, 2016, as per the notice requirements. We also requested to be a consulting party in the preparation of the Master Plan. Our plan gives details for each area described in the Kawainui-Hamakua Complex Master Plan currently under EIS review. The file below contains background, an overview, the actual alternative plan that we propose, and recommendations for what we feel should be included in the draft EIS (DEIS) that was being prepared. You may view/download our entire Alternative Plan, by clicking on the following.
The DEIS included responses to our comments made in September 2016, and its publication allowed for a 45-day public review and comment period. LKOC did not feel the DEIS addressed our concerns, nor did it include our LKOC Alternative Plan in its content. Below is LKOC's response to the DEIS, which we submitted to DLNR and HHF Planners, January 22, 2018.
DLNR/HHF Planners Response to LKOC Comments on the DEIS for Kawainui-Hamakua Master Plan - FEIS Pending - August 2019
On August 8, 2019, LKOC received a response from DLNR and HHF Planners to our comments (which were submitted January 22, 2018) (see link above), and that response is shown below. The response indicates that the DEIS has been revised from that presented in December 2017, and is now referred to as the FEIS. Those modifications do accommodate some of our concerns, and the FEIS does now include a discussion of the LKOC Alternative Plan, as we had requested, so that reviewers of the plan will have that available to them. However, in the FEIS, our alternative plan has still been rejected as an unviable alternative because, in their opinion, it “does not support the objectives" of the plan.
The DLNR response letter is long, but the last nine pages are copies of actual pages in the DEIS, altered to reflect changes as relating to our specific comments.
The next step was for the FEIS to be presented to the Board of Land and Natural Resources (BLNR), for approval or rejection. No further public comment is allowed.
LKOC Letter to DLNR re Kawainui-Hamakua Marsh Master Plan FEIS - September 2019
LKOC evaluated the above DLNR/HHF Planners responses to our concerns, and sent the following letter in response to Suzanne Case, Chairperson of the Department of Land and Natural Resources (and BLNR), reiterating our position on the scope and nature of the improvements proposed, and asking that our LKOC Alternative Plan be rigorously considered when reviewing the FEIS for BLNR approval or rejection.
LKOC Testimony to BLNR re Kawainui-Hamakua Marsh Master Plan FEIS - October 2019
The FEIS was presented to LKOC and others in mid October, 2019, and were told that it was to be presented to the FEIS Accepting Authority, the State Board of Land and Natural Resources (BLNR) on October 25, 2019.
After thorough review of the FEIS, LKOC testified before the BLNR on October 25, 2019, as a consulting party, expressing LKOC’s concerns that the FEIS does not address the primary need which is the removal of permanent modern facilities upslope of the wetland that are not essential to DOFAW resource management responsibilities, are not required by Ramsar, and are not essential to fulfilling the requirements of the Land Water Conservation Act. The current Master Plan will provide more public access to an endangered water bird habitat and an already degraded ecosystem. We believe the Master Plan’s insistence that Ramsar and the Land Water Conservation Fund require the level of recreational, educational, and cultural presence (in the form of modern facilities) being proposed is unfounded. Exceptions would and should be allowed for wildlife sanctuaries and wetlands as small as Kawainui-Hamakua.
Despite LKOC testimony, BLNR voted to Accept the FEIS with further amendments to reintroduce certain features that had been removed from the DEIS. Here is LKOC's testimony before the BLNR on October 25, 2019.
LKOC Public Position on BLNR Acceptance of Kawainui-Hamakua Marsh Master Plan FEIS - October 2019
Given the above BLNRAcceptance of the FEIS, and their Proposed Amendmentstothe FEIS, (to reinstate features that had been removed from the DEIS based on community input and Plan Consultant analysis), LKOC felt compelled to respond with the following public statement on October 31, 2019 detailing our concerns about these last minute amendments being made, as well as concerns about the integrity of EIS preparation process itself.
Our public statement describes our long 70-year history of both protecting Kawainui from environmental threats as well as actively working towards its preservation as a natural and cultural resource. This public statement was sent to the Star-Advertiser and Civil Beat, resulting in excerpts being included in a Civil Beat article published on November 19, 2019. That article included a discussion of the community’s concerns about the plan, both for and against, including LKOC’s position: Restoring Kaiwainui Marsh After Years Of Neglect Is Not As Easy As It Could Be https://www.civilbeat.org/?p=1357607
Here is LKOC’s public statement from October 31, 2019:
BLNR Sends FEIS for Kawainui-Hamakua Marsh Master Plan to Governor for Approval - August 2020
On August 8, 2020, a revised FEIS was sent by BLNR to the Governor for approval. It included reinstating larger building footprints for both the Cultural Center at Kapaa and the Educational Center at Pohakea as had been proposed in the DEIS, and the reinstatement of an additional .62 miles trails (at Kapaa and Mokulana Peninsula), 640 feet of boardwalk (at Kapaa), a 191 foot bridge and 2 viewing pavilions (at Mokulana), and 2 observation decks and 1 interpretive pavilion (at DOFAW Management Station area), all of which had been removed from the previous FEIS based on community input and environmental concerns.
Publication of FEIS for Kawainui-Hamakua Marsh Master Plan - January 2021
On January 8, 2021, the Governor's Approvalof the FEIS was published in The Environmental Notice by the Office of Environmental Quality and Control, which provides 60 days thereafter for injured parties to challenge a FEIS.
LKOC Files Challenge to the FEIS for Kawainui-Hamakua Marsh Master Plan - March 2021
On March 8, 2021, the Lani-Kailua Outdoor Circle, as a decades-long leader in the protection and preservation of the marsh, joined two other like-minded organizations, Hawaii’s Thousand Friends and the Hawaii Audubon Society, as plaintiffs in a Challenge-Appeal of the FEIS for Kawainui-Hamakua March Master Plan Approval in State Court. The challenge includes four separate counts, each asking for a claim for relief due to a variety of violations of the Hawaii Environmental Policy Act (HEPA), the Clean Water Act and various Articles of the Hawaii Constitution.
The Lani-Kailua Outdoor Circle ”Keeping Kailua Clean, Green and Beautiful” since 1948