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Tuesday, March 05, 2024

Kaʻū News Briefs March 4, 2024

Black Sand Beach, LLC says it has received historic photos from locals who miss the restaurant and
other activities during the days of the old resort there. Photo from Black Sand Beach, LLC
NOSTALGIC PHOTOS OF DAYS GONE BY AT PUNALU'U have been provided by Black Sand Beach, LLC, which proposes to restore some of the commercial and community activity sites near the beach, along with 225 accommodation units inland. The plan goes to a public hearing in Hilo this Thursday, 9 a.m. at County Council Chambers with opportunities to testify by zoom from home or from a zoom center set up at Na'alehu Community Center and at another KaiLokis Restaurant & Barin Ocean View.
Canoe and surf at Punalu'u Beach.
Historic photo from Black Sand Beach, LLC
     Black Sand Beach Project Director Norman Quon said the photos were provided by people in the community who miss the days when they took their families to the Black Sand Beach pond area to eat at the restaurant, and celebrate family events. Mothers Day and holidays were a big draw for the place. It was popular for local music and a place where many locals worked. 
     He said the new plan would keep the entire black sand beach, pond area and shoreline open to the public with venues for local celebrations and a place for hula and luaus, as well as places to picnic in the shade, with restrooms in a parklike setting.
    The public hearing is for a Special Management Area permit that would allow the project to go forward in the SMA, which is all the land at the old resort makai of Highway 11. Special Management Areas designated by the state are intended to protect the coastline.
     Black Sand Beach asserts that it is and will continue to clean up the abandoned old resort buildings and restore the sewage, water and fire hydrant systems, which were already degraded when it purchased the place.
An old walking bridge with double hulled canoes in the Black Sand Beach pond, as seen
in  historic photos given to Black Sand Beach, LLC

Laila Kaupu, steward supervisor in Miloli'i. Photo from DLNR
ACCESSING HAWAI'I'S NATURAL AND CULTURAL RESOURCES IS A POPULAR ACTIVITY FOR LOCALS AND VISITORS, says a statement from the state Department of Land & Natural Resources. DLNR reports on the two year old Nā Manu ʻElele Steward Program, which is expected to hire more than 20 stewards through 2026 statewide and, along with its partners, is accepting applications for trainees. Nā Manu ʻElele is a collaboration between Kupu, Hawaiʻi’s largest youth-focused conservation and sustainability nonprofit, the U.S. Economic Development Administration, Hawai‘i Tourism Authority and DLNR. It "aims to inform and connect the people at wahi pana (legendary places, and living, breathing spaces)," says the DLNR statement.
    Laila Kaupu, steward supervisor in Miloli‘i, with its Community-Based Subsistence Fishing Area, said that the stewards’ engagement with visitors to these wahi pana is reciprocal. “Building pilina to ‘āina (that which feeds us) grows in understanding the gift of giving, the kuleana (responsibility) to mālama (care for, protect). It shows you can give back before taking. Knowing how one can fill a void before creating it. This is how we mālama ʻāina.”
    Daniel Nāhoʻopiʻi, HTA interim President & Chief Executive Officer, said, “Hiring kamaʻāina who want to step up and protect the special places in their communities is a very tangible, direct manifestation of the regenerative tourism model that we are working toward for Hawaiʻi. In doing so, we are also assuring a quality experience for all who enjoy our natural resources. We are appreciative of this partnership with DLNR to advance our shared mission to mālama Hawaiʻi.”
    Aaron Lowe, a Nā Ala Hele Trails and Access Program Specialist, said, “People are enjoying the interaction and education from stewards,” said Lowe. “Visitors are walking away with a new appreciation and understanding of the plants, animals, and place itself.”
Training applications from youth are being taken by Nā Manu ʻElele Steward Program.
Photo from DLNR
    Nā Manu ʻElele Program was piloted on Hawaiʻi Island at Pololū Valley in 2022. There, trail stewards engaged with hikers and visitors to educate them about native plants and animals, the cultural and historical significance of the area, safety concerns, and preserving the area. "With two years of success at Pololū, in the form of notable reductions in hiking accidents, instances of illegal camping, and parking violations, the program looked to expand." notes DLNR
    “Kupu is excited to partner with DLNR and embark on this journey to engage local communities, protect Hawai‘i’s natural and cultural treasures, and nurture a new generation of environmental stewards,” said Kupu CEO, John Leong. “In traditional Hawaiian context, birds, or nā manu, represent messengers, guardians, and beings of a particular place. ʻElele refers to individuals who act as ambassadors. Kupu is honored to secure part-time and full-time Nā Manu ʻElele positions on the islands of Hawaiʻi, Maui, Oʻahu, Molokaʻi, and Kauaʻi.”
    The steward program accepts applications on a rolling basis. To apply, visit https://www.kupuhawaii.org/na-manu-elele.

THE PUNALU'U ISSUE HAS BECOME A MAYORAL CANDIDATE ISSUE for Tupai Seoalua, Jr. He has announced his candidacy and is hosting meetings around t he island. Seoalua, of Hilo, ran as a Republican for Lt. Governor in the last election. This election, he said, he is running for Mayor of Hawai'i County on the platform of "Redeeming The Future for the People of Hawai'i." He issued this statement about Punalu'u on Sunday:
    "If you oppose the development that is going to take place in Punalu’u please support the people of
Tupai Seoalua, Jr. has made Punalu'u part of his campaign for mayor.
Ka’ū at the Hawai’i County Building this Thursday at 9am to give public testimony, written testimony or simply stand in solidarity with the community. I myself am open to development, but it has to be the “right” kind of development that executes the Community Development Plan of Ka’ū (CDP) and reflects the will of the people of Ka’ū.
    "For the Planning Commission to potentially begin moving forward with a Special Management Area Use Permit (SMA) based on a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) from 2006 is misguided and would break the trust of the people. A new and relevant EIS should be completed along with an updated shore assessment and setback, a disaster mitigation plan and an upgrade of the surrounding infrastructure that is deteriorating.
    "The current infrastructure cannot sustain the influx of tourists who would come to Ka’ū. There is also no burial treatment plan in place for iwi kūpuna. This area is also home to the critically endangered Hawaiian Hawksbill turtle. Any development would significantly add to the end of their existence. There are a laundry list of unanswered concerns.
    "People from neighbor islands have warned Big Island that moving forward with a project of this nature in the region of Ka’ū, which is one of the last undeveloped shorelines, would change that demographic
and alter the ecosystem of that region forever. Quite frankly it will never be the same again. Please show your support and keep Ka’ū Ka’ū. Mahalo and aloha."
     He also released a video by Pāhala resident Jade Cabreros:

ORGANIZERS OF A PETITION DRIVE OPPOSING RESORT DEVELOPMENT AT PUNALU'U said they have recorded about 1100 signatures opposing the plan by Black Sand Beach, LLC. They said they plan to submit their petition to County Planning Commission. Opposition organizers plan to lead a caravan from the pavilion at Punalu'u Black Sand Beach departing at 7 a.m. this Thursday, March 7, and head to the public hearing in Hilo County Council Chambers. The hearing begins at 9 a.m.The organizers contend that more development at Punalu'u will further overcrowd the coast and degrade natural and cultural resources. See the petition narrative at  https://www.thepetitionsite.com/854/086/898/residents-who-oppose-the-resort-in-punaluu-ka%C5%AB/?fbclid=IwAR1wvLWSB_sMTSF36FET0XzmPL8sk50ZTF1HaQ