Bill aims to set­tle dis­putes over trail on Kauai

An an­cient path owned by the state would be mapped and made pub­lic

Honolulu Star-Advertiser - - FRONT PAGE - By Ti­mothy Hur­ley thur­ley@starad­ver­

State law­mak­ers are weigh­ing a bill that re­quires the state to iden­tify the path of the an­cient Ala Loa trail on Kauai and rec­og­nize it as a pub­lic trail.

The trail, which gen­er­ally fol­lows the coast around the is­land, ap­par­ently in­cludes a sec­tion that crosses the prop­erty of Face­book CEO Mark Zucker­berg as well as other ocean­front prop­erty own­ers re­luc­tant to open their land.

More than 100 peo­ple marched near Zucker­berg’s prop­erty Feb. 4 in what was billed as a peace­ful demon­stra­tion to “Save the Ala Loa” and urge that it be opened to the pub­lic. Some were Na­tive Hawai­ians look­ing for coastal ac­cess for fish­ing and gath­er­ing pur­poses.

The bill, in­tro­duced by state Rep. Kaniela Ing, is ex­pected to be ap­proved on se­cond read­ing to­day by the House Com­mit­tee on Ocean, Marine Re­sources and Hawai­ian Af­fairs and then move on to the House Com­mit­tee on Wa­ter and Land. The mea­sure was ap­proved Tues­day de­spite a re­quest by state Depart­ment of Land and Nat­u­ral Re­sources Chair­woman Suzanne Case that it be de­ferred.

In writ­ten tes­ti­mony, Case said that while the depart­ment, through its Na Ala

There’s no ques­tion they know ex­actly where the Ala Loa (trail) is.” Jo­ce­lyn Doane Pub­lic pol­icy di­rec­tor, Of­fice of Hawai­ian Af­fairs

Hele trail and ac­cess pro­gram, has de­ter­mined from reg­is­tered maps that the trail is owned by the state, the prob­lem is that the ex­act lo­ca­tion still re­mains un­de­ter­mined.

“To date the depart­ment has not been able to con­firm the lo­ca­tion of this his­toric trail — in­deed ev­i­dence in­di­cates it may have been lo­cated fur­ther mauka away from the coast near the main high­way,” she said. Nev­er­the­less, of­fi­cials re­main com­mit­ted to an on­go­ing di­a­logue with com­mu­nity mem­bers re­gard­ing spe­cific trail lo­ca­tions, and the depart­ment is con­tin­u­ing to re­view “all avail­able in­for­ma­tion” in an ef­fort to de­ter­mine the trail’s where­abouts, Case said.

BUT JO­CE­LYN Doane, pub­lic pol­icy di­rec­tor for the Of­fice of Hawai­ian Af­fairs, said more than enough in­for­ma­tion is avail­able to pin­point what she called a “crit­i­cal cul­tural path­way.”

Doane said of­fi­cials with OHA and the Na­tive Hawai­ian Le­gal Corp., along with com­mu­nity mem­bers in the Koolau dis­trict of North Kauai, have been work­ing on the is­sue since 2011. “Through this work and the great work of the com­mu­nity, OHA be­lieves that the spe­cific scope and lo­ca­tion of the Ala Loa ex­tend­ing through the Koolau dis­trict has in fact been thor­oughly doc­u­mented,” Doane said.

The his­toric trail ap­pears on maps from as early as 1833 through 1900 and is rec­og­nized in land com­mis­sion award doc­u­ments that date back to the Great Ma­hele, the land distri­bu­tion of 1848.

What’s more, an­cient coastal set­tle­ments in the Koolau dis­trict such as Moloaa, Pa­paa and Aliomanu were tra­di­tion­ally linked by the Ala Loa, she said, and ac­counts of the use of this his­toric trail have been doc­u­mented in pub­li­ca­tions from 1829 to 1895. Doane said she walked por­tions of the trail with com­mu­nity mem­bers only two weeks ago. “There’s no ques­tion they know ex­actly where the Ala Loa is,” she said.

THE STATE’S author­ity to claim own­er­ship of an­cient trails dates back to when Queen Lili‘uokalani and the leg­is­la­ture of the king­dom of Hawaii en­acted the High­ways Act of 1892, a law that still re­mains on the books.

Un­der the law, all roads, trails, bridges and other forms of pub­lic ac­cess that can be ver­i­fied to have ex­isted be­fore 1892 con­tinue to be owned in fee sim­ple by the state.

The law ap­plies even if the trail is not phys­i­cally on the land­scape, hav­ing, for ex­am­ple, been wiped out from on­go­ing land use ac­tiv­i­ties or by nat­u­ral events. But the bur­den of proof rests with the state, which must con­sider ar­chae­o­log­i­cal re­ports, his­toric maps, his­toric ac­counts, sur­veyor’s notes, deeds and other sources of in­for­ma­tion that might help de­ter­mine state own­er­ship.

In writ­ten tes­ti­mony, Kauai County Coun­cil­man Ma­son Chock said iden­ti­fy­ing and rec­og­niz­ing the trail would be an im­por­tant step in se­cur­ing pub­lic-ac­cess, hunt­ing and gath­er­ing rights for many Na­tive Hawai­ians.

It would also help end the es­ca­lat­ing ten­sion be­tween Na­tive Hawai­ians, pri­vate landown­ers and res­i­dents in re­gard to its lo­ca­tion, Chock said.

Some res­i­dents have com­plained about fences block­ing ac­cess, se­cu­rity guards pa­trolling beaches and fish­er­men be­ing threat­ened with ar­rest.


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