Acquisition of the Kaloko Trail by Hawai’i County’s Public Access, Open Space and Natural Resources Commission (PONC)

February 26, 2021

Public Access, Open Space and Natural Resources Commission 25 Aupuni Street
Hilo, HI 96720

Aloha Commissioners-

The acquisition of the Kaloko Trail would be a wonderful opportunity to open the door to more trail access island wide. I believe this would be the first trail acquisition by the PONC Fund. This would help to fulfill the Commission’s mandate, which is also part of the name PUBLIC ACCESS, Open Space and Natural Resources. In the pages to follow you will find this acquisition will fulfill the 2% Land Fund legislation that describes the properties that can be acquired:

(c) Monies in this fund shall be used solely to:
(1) Purchase or otherwise acquire lands and easements in the County of
Hawai‘i for public outdoor recreation and education, including:

(A) Access to beaches and mountains.
(B) Preservation of historic or culturally important land areas and sites.
(C) Protection of natural resources, significant habitat or eco-systems, including buffer zones.
(D) Preservation of forests, beaches, coastal areas, natural beauty and agricultural lands; and
(E) Protection of watershed lands to preserve water quality and water supply.

The real opportunity would occur if the County is able to use a Trail Easement or a Grant of Public Access Easement, which would be significantly less expensive. This stretches the PONC funds to go farther to purchase more properties. This trail should be a comparatively inexpensive acquisition of approximately 10 acres, even if purchased fee simple. As a condition of sale, the landowners may require fencing.

We ask your help to acquire this trail for recreation and exploration of the cloud forest’s unique habitat. This trail is easier for seniors and kids since most of the trail is wide and located at 2,800 feet of elevation. By comparison, the upper Makahi Trail, is much steeper, winds back and forth, and is covered in tree roots from the dense forest canopy which frequently keeps it muddy. Immersion in nature is important to all ages! It is important to note that this property would be preserved forever for the use and enjoyment of the citizens of Hawaii county.

Please look at the maps, the history, and make special note that the trails were built in the 1990s by Jeff McDevitt and Grant Miller who maintain the trails today. They are working to form a 501c3 to be able to apply for grants from the Maintenance Fund.

We ask your support to rate this trail with the highest of marks. Mahalo nui loa,

Debbie Hecht, Former PONC commissioner
Co-author of the 2% Land Fund Program Legislation
And Campaign Manager for the 2% Land Fund Ballot Measures since 2006

ATTACHMENT B- KALOKO TRAIL SUMMARY OF BENEFITS

RE: Attachment B: Provide a clear statement detailing how public acquisition would fulfill one or more of the above purposes. Also, explain the intent, long-term vision, and/or strategy of this proposed acquisition or project.

Kaloko property owners and the greater Kona Community have been hiking and biking the Kaloko Trail System for the last 30+ years. This acquisition would provide outdoor recreation for all ages, a place for families to foster a love of the outdoors for their children from an early age and to protect a beautiful portion of the cloud forest jungle on Hualālai mountain. This would help to preserve the natural beauty and watershed of the area by educating the public about this unique type of habitat.

The Kaloko Trail starts on Parcel 3 and crosses Parcel 2 and Parcel 1. See the Proposed Trail Map and the USGS map showing access to the Kaloko Trail to the Honu’a Forest Reserve (both are part of Attachment B). The Kaloko Trail is one of the only trails that is fairly level, with not much elevation change, that is usable for older people and children, making it ideal for a family outing. The trail is located at approximately 2,400 feet of elevation which makes it the perfect place for a cool summer hike. There is another entry to this trail system about 1.5 miles mauka at Makahi Street. This trail commonly known as the Jurassic Trail is very steep and very rugged over tree roots that winds through the forest/ jungle habitat. See the Trail Map It is a narrow, single person, trail where the Kaloko Trail is much wider and better for small groups. The two trails are an entirely different hiking and biking experience. Most hiker systems rate the Kaloko Trail as easy and the Makahi Street trail as moderate to difficult.

THE EXISTING TRAIL IS IN ORANGE, THE PROPOSED RELOCATION IS IN GREEN.
ONLY THE TRAIL ON PARCEL 3 WOULD NEED TO BE RELOCATED

Within the last 3 years, The Kaloko Trail was closed off by the new landowner of Parcel 3. No Trespassing signs have gone up at the trailhead on Ha’o Street just north of Kaloko ( see photo included in Attachment B). The Kaloko community, bikers and hikers from Kona seeking mellow day hiking were up in arms. Sadly, many people keep trespassing. The landowner is very concerned with invasive species brought in by hikers, bikers, dogs and feral pigs and intends to fence the entire property. Property owners also very concerned with people hiking or biking in case someone is hurt and decides to sue. It would be advantageous if the liability was lifted off the landowner.

The landowner of Parcel 3 has been approached several times with offers to purchase the entire property. He has so far declined these offers. As sponsors of this Suggestion Form to PONC, we are presently working with all 3 property owners to craft an all- win situation. We believe this can be achieved if the terms of acquisition are to fence part of the properties and eliminate the liability of having a public trail on their properties. We believe that the landowners can then assist the public with easy access to the Honu’a Ul’a Forest Preserve.

STEWARDSHIP and MAINTENANCE: We are currently getting letters of support from Community organizations and Kaloko neighbors. Several have been provided here from 2015 and from current supporters to show wide based ongoing support. Jeff McDevitt, a local doctor and Grant Miller, owner of Bikewerks have been actively maintaining these trails since the 1990s. (see 2 letters included in Attachment D) Please see Jeff’s History of the Trail System included in Attachment B. We have agreed to establish a 501c3 non-profit to apply for Maintenance Funds to maintain the trails and recruit more people for this purpose. Jeff and Grant are standing by to relocate the trail if the owner of Parcel 3 at the beginning of the trail on Ha’o Street agrees to relocate the trail. See their statements of support. It is the long-term vision for this non-profit to steward other trail acquisitions around the island. It would be the long-term goal of this non-profit to help with island-wide trail acquisition and maintenance. We see a great need to preserve, create and maintain more trails on Hawai’i Island.

The following in italics is part of the Charter Amendment that lists the attributes or types of properties that may be acquired with the 2% Land Fund Monies.

The Kaloko Trail property fits almost every criterion (see bold and underlined):

“(c) Monies in this fund shall be used solely to:
(1) Purchase or otherwise acquire lands and easements in the County of
Hawai‘i for public outdoor recreation and education, including:

(A) Access to beaches and mountains;
(B) Preservation of historic or culturally important land areas and sites;
(C) Protection of natural resources, significant habitat or eco-systems, including buffer zones;
(D) Preservation of forests, beaches, coastal areas, natural beauty and agricultural lands; and
(E) Protection of watershed lands to preserve water quality and water supply.”

The Public Access, Open Space and Natural Resources Fund has fallen short on acquiring trail access. Portions of the Ala Kahakai Trail have been acquired as part of the large parcels in North Kohala and Ka’u have been purchased. To my knowledge, the Public Access, Open Space and Natural Resources Program has not used Trail Easements or Grants of Public Access Easements as a method of acquisition (samples of these documents can be supplied upon request). Theoretically, this acquisition could be a 30-foot strip of land leading through someone’s property and use only a small amount of PONC funds. We are hoping that this will be the first of many Trail Easements or Grants of Public Access Easements that can be used island wide.

We ask your support to preserve this important hiking jewel for the Kona Community, indeed the entire island to provide recreation for residents, young and old and for visitors. We imagine they could tour the Cloud Forest first and then have a cloud forest immersion experience to hike or bike the Kaloko Trail with greater appreciation.

Mahalo for your service and your interest to preserve public access, open space and natural resources on Hawai’i Island.

Sincerely,
Debbie Hecht, Campaign Coordinator for the 2% Land Fund Program since 2005, former PONC Commissioner, Chair of Moku O’ Keawe Land Conservancy and avid Kona Hiker.

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History of the trail system in the Honu’a Ul’a forest reserve

By Jeff McDevitt, head trail builder and trail maintenance since the mid-1990s

In the mid-1920s, Pu’uwa’awa’a ranch owners wanted to begin raising cattle but had no water source, with their land being entirely on a dry forest. They made an agreement with Palani ranch to run a 3 inch galvanized pipe from their well on the south side of Hualalai, northward across the entire mountain at about 3000′ elevation, to their watering station near the Pu’uwa’awa’a cinder cone, quite an amazing accomplishment. The 2 parties acquired an easement to build a section of the trail that crosses land that has in modern time become residentially developed, the Kaloko subdivision.

Many years after this pipeline trail was originally built, the agreement between the two ranches fell through and the pipeline was disassembled. A small 1.5 mile section of the original trail that crosses this present day Kaloko subdivision continued to be used for recreation by the public however which kept it from growing over completely. Portions of the disassembled pipe can be seen to this day just off the mauka side of this trail, which benefited from even greater public usage after the Kaloko residential subdivision road construction made the entrance point to the 1.5 mile section of trail at Hao St. more easily accessible.

In the mid-1990’s, the state of Hawaii took back the lease of certain portions of land from Hualalai Ranch to form forest reserves for recreational purposes in the Kona community. The 1365 acre Honu’a Ul’a Forest reserve, on the northern border of the Kaloko subdivision, was dedicated for hiking and mountain biking. The above described original pipeline trail crosses that forest reserve, an extension of the short 1.5 mile section of trail that crosses the Kaloko residential subdivision. The Department of Forestry and Wildlife (DOFAW), the Hawaii State branch of DLNR, asked the TREE nonprofit (Tropical Reforestation and Ecological Education) to put trails into the forest reserve for hiking and mountain biking. They had no trail building experience, but they knew of 2 mtn bikers with trail building experience, Jeff McDevitt and Grant Miller, in the PATH non profit. They approached PATH to put in mountain biking trails, while they would attempt to build hiking trails. The PATH trail builders subsequently put in 6 miles of trails in the forest reserve with hand tools over the next 10 years, joining into the 1.5 mile section through Kaloko subdivision. This was done after the DOFAW head botanist, Lyman Perry, walked the proposed trails with the trail builders, presented his findings to the top guys of DOFAW, who subsequently gave the go ahead to build the 6 total miles of trails. DOFAW was subsequently folded into DLNR. Shortly afterward, an MOA was signed between DLNR & PATH designating the PATH trail crew as the officially sanctioned trail building/trail maintenance organization for this trail system.

Sadly, the TREE nonprofit lost its funding and the hiking trails never got built so the mountain biking trails have become multi-use for everyone. For the next 15 years Big Island hikers and mountain bikers enjoyed this trail system with two entrances, one at Hao Street crossing private land for the small first section then continuing on the state forest reserve land, and one at the very end of Makahi St. entering the reserve directly.

While PATH was initially the official sponsor, the actual trail maintenance group is actually a loosely organized group of mountain bikers who also happen to be PATH members. They built and have maintained the trails for the past 28 years that they have been in use. This group intends to continue this service for the community indefinitely. They are presently forming their own nonprofit organization specifically for this purpose since the PATH organization has had to break off their sponsorship due to significant cutbacks in their funding w/ the Covid pandemic.

As mentioned above, a portion of the original Pipeline trail now crosses three private residential properties in the Kaloko subdivision and joins into the 6 miles of forest reserve trails which are on State land. However, it is important to understand that the trail portion crossing the three properties is on County land. Over the many years since the subdivision was built none of the three landowners whose property the trail crosses have objected to the community use of the trail for recreation. Recently, one of these three 10 acre properties was purchased by a new owner. 90% of the short, County section of this old trail that crosses the Kaloko subdivision is on this new homeowner’s property, with only the remaining 10% divided between the other two private residential parcels. The new owner wishes to close his property off to public use so he can remove all invasive species and restore the forest to its native vegetation only. While this is certainly a worthwhile endeavor, it takes away from the community the most easily hikeable, level portion of the trail system and a second entrance into the trail system. There is now a no trespassing sign at the entrance on Hao Street to the trail system. The trails have become extremely popular in the Kona area for recreation during the pandemic. Hikers are repeatedly asking trail maintenance crew why the section of trail from Hao Street has been taken away from us and requesting that it be restored.

This History of the Trail System has been compiled by Jeff McDevitt, the head trail builder of the original PATH trail crew and submitted to Debbie Hecht on 2/22/21. It is accurate to the best of my knowledge.

Attachment C: Provide, if available, additional community endorsements for this proposed acquisition o r project through letters of support (simply reference any additional documents). In addition, please identify community organizations, land trusts, or individuals that could be contacted for further information about this proposed acquisition or project.

Letters from neighbors’ hikers and bikers: This trail has been used since the 1990s by hikers, bikers, Kaloko neighbors and the Kona Community. The previous landowner allowed access and the community enjoyed the trail. The property was purchased within the last 5 years and shut off to the community, which is the reason for this Suggestion to the Public Access and Open Space Commission. I have been hiking this trail since the early 2000s and also the upper trail off of Makahi Street. Both trails provide access to the Makaula-O’oma Section of the Honua’ula Forest Reserve which is managed by the state of Hawaii and maintained by Na ala Hele. This pristine, native forest has is pristine native plants in the cloud forest elevation. It is truly a world away from the shoreline lava hikes and only 15 minutes from downtown Kona

As I grow older, I miss hiking the lower trail because of the gentle slope that rarely vary from 2,800 feet. There is no better place to hike on hot summer days. The trail goes about 2 miles to the Makalei Golf Course boundary. The upper Makahi Trail is much harder to hike because it is narrow, of the elevation change and extensive roots to trip on. The Kaloko Trail is much easier for older people and kids. Please take the time to read the letters of testimony. We are planning on doing a petition to show the overwhelming support for this trail. Please contact me for more information at hecht.deb@gmail.com or 808-989-3222. Mahalo for your service to the community!

Please click the link below, to read the letters of support, including: former Council member Karen Eoff, Tina Clothier former E.D. of PATH, Deborah Chang, former planner County of Hawaii, Hawaii State Division of Forestry and Wildlife-Steve Bergfield,
Kaloko neighborhood organizer Lydia Weiss (808) 960-3800, Kona Hiking Club Leaders Joan Kinchla and Ruby Tzimeas, Karen Eberly, Kathryn and Neil Simms, Alice Jenkins, the Newkolds, Dr. Carol Hendrix, Dr. Glenn Brasington, Winfield Chang, Caroline Carlson, Laura Weaver, Tamara Gouveia, Scott and Karen Susman, Linda Lesley, and many more. other letters to follow that will be passed to the Commission by Communication. They will all be posted on the website by March 1.

Kaloko / Hao Street Trail, support from Neighbors (more to follow)

NOTE:  These support emails below were gathered in only 5 days.  Also included are some letters from supporters from 2015, when then Council member Karen Eoff worked with Tina Clouthier, then Executive Director for PATH (People’s Advocacy for Trails Hawaii)

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From:  Lydia Weiss (808) 960-3800 and  <aloha.lydia.w@gmail.com>

February 23, 2021

Dear friends at Public Access, Open Space and Natural Resources Commission,

Re: LOWER KALOKO TRAIL ACQUISITION 

Acquiring the Hao Street trail for the public would be a BIG plus. The only other public trail in Kaloko, Makahi St trail, has become overused with lots of people and cars since this lower trail has been closed due to private ownership.

I’ve been walking these trails for over 35 years. 

I appreciate whatever you can do to help those of us who enjoy being out in the fresh air and staying healthy. 

Mahalo,

Lydia Weiss

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Aloha to the Open Space & Natural Resource Commission !  

Being raised in Kona for the last 28 years I grew walking the trails up Kaloko, my native Hawaiian Husband and I love it so much we purchased land at Kaloko Makai Place and want to raise our daughter and generations on this beautiful Ahapua’a. We went on our first date on the trail, and when I was pregnant would walk there most mornings before work. It’s perfect to escape a hot day in town and do something healthy. Our 5 year old daughter recognizes most of the Native plants on the trail, she learned how to walk on those trails. We understand how unique it is on the Kona side to have access to the mountain & forrest without trespassing, and the educational value of having trails to bring our children and grandchildren into nature is priceless and vital to their physical & mental health. Study after study show the benefit of being in nature, one of my favorite books is “Last held in the Woods” . The whole Kaloko Ahapua’a is an amazing opportunity for educating Kama’aina & Visitors on what a healthy ahapua’a should look like hands on, with volunteers we can keep this a treasure for the community. I support the purchase of this new Trail 100% and hope the commission sees the value and urgency for securing it for future generations. Makalo Nui Loa !!

Sincerely,

Moriah Smith Kramer 

Kaloko Coffee, an Organic Farm 

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FROM RICCI BEZONA:

Aloha PONC  Commissioners,

I have been hiking the Kaloko Trail since I found it by accident, back in 1996. I would see people entering the trail on their horses, so I decided to check it out one day. Since then, I have recorded running at least 10,000 miles on that trail, with no exaggeration. I live about a half mile down the road, and this has been part of my usual running route for the past 16 years, since I finally moved up here in 2005. I have used this trail to run both of my dogs, Lulu and Ernie, which I am sad to say, are now both deceased. I credit this trail for helping me through major crises in my life, such as the loss of my Grandmother Phyllis in 2010, and my brother Tim, in 2015. It has also been a place where I can wind down from a hard day of work, and get a good hard work out, away from the heat down below at lower elevations.

I have used this trail as a botanical study, and to keep in practice with identifying the native, as well as alien species along the trail. I also know all of the ups an downs of this trail, including the mud holes, and the rocks I have tripped over more than once. I have enjoyed running this trail in the beautiful sunshine, and at sunset, when just the tops of the trees are lit. I have run the trail with my head light at night, and under a full moon. I have run this trail early in the morning, when I know I am the first person of the day, because I am clearing spider webs along the way. In some case I have been completely amazed seeing spider webs spanning a distance of over 20 feet. One time I ran the trail in a thunder storm and the rain turned to hail. There was a beehive I ran by for over 10 years, toward the end of the trail, that I recently witnessed the bees vacating. I have it on video if anyone wants to see it. I have limped 2 miles in the dark after tripping on a rock and flying down a hill. I watched endangered tree species die after someone sprayed glyphosate toward the end of the trail. I have come within 10 feet of startled pigs as I rounded a corner, only to see them relax a little, when they realize it is only me, and I don’t have a gun. And by the way, the avocado tree a little over 1 mile from the road, has excellent tasting avocados. Summing it up, this trail has been a huge blessing to me, and a big part of my life!

What I see happening now seems somewhat similar to what I witnessed happening in the 1970s. As properties along the coastline were being bought up and developed, we lost more and more of our favorite camping spots, and access to our shorelines. The land owners always think it is their right to keep people off of their property. Luckily we had a few good politicians who helped fight for shore line access every few hundred feet. Otherwise many of our favorite surfing and diving spots would no longer be accessible by the general public. The Makaula-O’oma Honu’ala Forest Reserve is public land, meant to be enjoyed by all of us! Access to this forest treasure should not be limited to just 1 or 2 locations. And the Ha’o Street trail is a logical access point to keep, since it has been in place for at least 100 years.

I would also like to mention, in all of the years I have spent running on the trail, everyone has been warm and friendly.  This goes for the regulars I see all of the time, to the people who are lost, wondering which way it is to the main road. If the problem is all of the cars, or the shady people hanging out on the road near the trail head. Then let’s focus on minimizing the negative effects in that area. Blocking the entire trail off is not the right answer. There are a lot of criminals whom I believe would not be criminals, if they had the opportunity to spend more time in the forest.

I could write much more, and if I had more time I would fine tune the letter to be much more eloquently written. I am busy running my own business and taking care of my own responsibilities. But keeping this trail open to the public, is not only very important for my sake. It is a treasure that should be shared with the public to help make all of our lives a little better.

Please support the Kaloko Trail for acquisition with 2% Land Fund monies. Thank you very much for your consideration!

Sincerely,

Ricci Bezona
Owner/President | ISA #: WE-8785A

P.O. Box 3096 | Kailua-Kona, Hawaii 96745
Nursery +1.808.325.1034 | Cell +1.808.960.4946
http://www.bezonabotanical.com/

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To:Public Access, Open Space and Natural Resources Commission

RE: The lower Kaloko Trail Acquisition

To Whom it May Concern,

I have been visiting the Big Island since 1986 and have been a permanent resident since 2001.

My husband and I own a home in Kailua Kona.  During that time we were fortunate to be introduced to the Lower Kaloko Trail.  It is a very special place and unique in Kailua Kona surroundings.  We have been hiking it on a regular basis for the last 16 years.

In the last 2 o 3  years we were quite shocked that access from lower Hao Rd had been closed off. Apparently a private landowner chose to do this and I understand that it is his right.It came to my attention that a group may want to purchase the easement that would again allow access from Lower Hao Rd. I would certainly be in favor of this.

This trail is unlike any other in this area of North Kona.  The flora and fauna that is present is more typical of that in the Volcanoes National Park region.  Those of us who don’t choose to or can’t drive the 4 hour round trip to Volcanoes are fortunate to have this area to appreciate.

We have taken countless friends and family members who have been visiting us from around the world because it is so” special “. There are many native birds and native plants and orchids that i have photographed over the years. 

There are so many public trails that have been closed off in the last 10 years that there are not many places for local people to get out and enjoy what we may have moved here to appreciate. Many of the trails where I used to hike can only be accessed by paying a private company such as Hawaii Forest and Trail.  While I want to support local businesses, it is too costly for me  to do this for my hiking experience.  Hence my choice of trails is diminishing yearly.

I would encourage you to consider this proposal of purchasing and maintaining the easement off of Hao Rd.

Thank You,

Barbara Pool

Kailua Kona, HI

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February 23, 2021

Public Access, Open Space and Natural Resources Commission

Re: Lower Kaloko Trail Acquisition

Aloha,

I am writing in support of extending access to the Makaula O’oma Trail from Hao Street. Having access from Hao Street would provide hikers who are not capable of hiking up hills an opportunity to enjoy the Honua’ula Forest Reserve, the Hawaiian song birds, native vegetation, and experience a rainforest.

When the lower access trail to Makaula O’oma Trail was open, I met a group of preschoolers who were learning about the plants along the trail. This was a great opportunity for 3 and 4 year olds to engage in a rainforest environment. This lower access trail is close to Kailua-Kona thus providing easy access to an outdoor classroom by students of the many preschool and lower elementary grades. These students are not physically capable of walking the steep and lengthy trails accessible from Makahi Street.

Kapuna and physically impaired people who enjoy being in nature, are bird lovers and hobby botanists, currently do not have access to the Makaula O’oma Trail and Honua’loa Forest Reserve. Having access from Hao Street would provide access to these people. From what I know about hiking trails, the Makaula O’oma Trail is the only forested trail in the Kailua-Kona vicinity and West Hawaii.

The Makaula O’oma Trail, unlike the lower elevation trails, the temperature does not got too hot for hikers. It provides a variety of birds and native vegetation for hikers to enjoy, as well as a tranquil environment.

Please take the necessary action to restore access from Hao Street to Makaula O’oma Trail. Makaula O’oma and Honua’loa Forest Reserve are an educational resource, restore one’s mana, and provide a cool place for non-strenuous exercise for residents and visitors in Kona and West Hawaii.

Mahalo piha,

Karen Peitz-Eberle  PO Box 697

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To:  Public Access, Open Space and Natural Resources Commission

Re:  Lower Kaloko Trail Acquisition

The Lower Kaloko Trail off Hao Street is a gem for all us local hikers and visitors.  I was very sad when the owner cut off access.  It’s relatively level (good for aging hikers) and has more shade than most West Hawaii trails.  It’s one of few rainforest trails in West Hawaii.  Most of West Hawaii is private property, so any public trails are very much needed.  I urge you to acquire public access to this trail and fence it off.

Sincerely,

Alice Jenkins

67-1296 Laikealoha Street

Kamuela, HI 96743

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2.23.2021

Aloha PONC,
Please put the Hao Street trail (Kaloko Mauka) on the acquisition list for 2021. Easements on this lower portion of the trail hopefully will maintain access to the full trail.

The freedom to hike the beautiful trails of the Big Island is such a blessing and privilege.  It should not be lost.

Mahalo for your consideration.
Colleen Meyer
Keauhou Bay

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February 24, 2021

To whom it may concern on the acquisition committee,

Please register this plea on behalf of my wife and I, Ulrike and Richard Newkold, of 525A Wainaku Street, Hilo, HI 96720:  We ask and urge the Committee to make the purchase of a trail easement on the Lower Kaloko Trail at your next sitting.  Although we live in Hilo, we hike all corners and elevations of our beloved Big Island. We’ve hiked the Lower Kaloko Trail several times, prior to its closure, with friends we met in the Kona Hiking Club.  It is a beautiful trail and gives access to a part of the island poorly served by other public access. 

Richard and Ulrike Newkold

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Note: The following letters are from Ruby Tzimeas along with Joan Kinchla, who  were founding members of the KONA HIKING CLUB, this is what she wrote on Feb 23, 2021:

To the members of the Public Access, Open Space, and Natural Resources Commission:

I am writing in support of the use of PONC funds to acquire easements to the lower portion of the hiking/biking trail located in Kaloko Mauka.  I have been hiking this trail since I moved to Kona, over 20 years ago.  It is the only mauka trail, close to town, that is even partially open to the public. 

I remember when I first discovered it, one hot summer day.  It was a revelation to learn that there was a refreshingly cool place that I could take my dog to hike that did not require an hour in the car to get to!  There is nothing else within miles that compares to the luxurious forest of hapu’u fern, ‘ohi’a, koa, and and kahili ginger growing there.  (Although it is true that the ginger is invasive, the scent is truly intoxicating when it is in bloom.)  There are also many other native plants and forest birds along the trail, as well. 

Walking just a few minutes from your car here, is like stepping out of the “big city” of Kailua-Kona, back into Jurassic times.  Perhaps this is why the mountain biking community has christened the trail Jurassics, although I personally think the Hawaiian name of the ahupua’a, ’O’oma (posted at the upper trailhead), is far more appropriate.

As a past leader (2005 – 2009) of the Kona Hiking Club, I can tell you that this trail is very important to many members of our community.  Encouraging outdoor activity is something that our community leaders (including all of you!) should be doing to the greatest extent possible.  Kona is known for it’s healthy, active, lifestyle, but far too many of our trails have been lost to public use in the past 20 years.  You have an opportunity now to help preserve one more that is in danger of being lost.

Originally, the trail was a loop, with access from both Hao Street and Makahi Street.  But parts of the lower (Hao Street) portion cross private property, and have been posted “No Trespassing”.   Unfortunately, this removes the loop option for the hike.  More importantly, the lower portion is wider and flatter, more comfortable for older hikers and families with young children.  If this access was to be permanently lost, a large segment of our community will no longer find it safe to  hike there.

When hiking in other parts of the country, it is very common for trails to cross back and forth over undeveloped public and private lands.  It is less common here in Hawai’i, perhaps because property owners have liability concerns.  If the County of Hawai’i were to purchase these easements, it would eliminate these concerns to a large degree.  I hope that you will see fit to include it as a high priority for purchase, on this year’s list!

Mahalo nui loa,

Ruby Tzimeas. rubyolili@hotmail.com

73-1401 Kaika Place

Kailua-Kona, HI 96740

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Joan Kinchla

77-6393 Kaheiau Street

Kailua-Kona, HI 96740

808-987-1869

February 24, 2021

Public Access, Open Space and Natural Resources Commission

Dear Commission:

I am a full time resident of Kailua Kona and fully support PONC to consider purchasing the lower portion of Koloko mauka trail (off Old Hao Road) as an easement for public access. It would be an excellent addition to PONC.  This mauka trail access is so important to those of us who enjoy hiking in cooler temps in the summer.  The Big Island has so few mauka trails that are open to the public.  It is a wonderful, relatively flat trail for those of all ages (families) to enjoy, not to mention the variety of vegetation:  ohia trees, ginger, etc.

As a former Kona Hiking Club leader, I have seen too many coastal trails be relocated or fenced off completely (i.e., private developers and/or second home buyers from mainland) which is an incredible loss for both local kama’aina and visitors alike.  The time to protect this section of the Koloko trail and make available for public access is NOW.  Hikers, walkers, mountain bikers and hunters have, in the past, utilized this area and it would be wonderful to secure and maintain this trail for all to enjoy in the future.  I hope PONC will seriously consider purchasing this important easement.

Mahalo for your consideration.

Respectfully,

Joan Kinchla

808-987-1869

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To:Public Access, Open Space and Natural Resources Commission

RE: The lower Kaloko Trail Acquisition

To Whom it May Concern,

I have recently become aware of interest in the Lower Kaloko Trail Acquisition.  I fully support any effort on behalf of public access to our beautiful island.  

Over the past 20 years I have watched as more and more access  to our public lands being hindered by development or person gain.  The “Kaloko Trail” is one of the last public access areas within a short drive from Kailua Kona.  Over the years I have hiked the trails, brought visitors to area and found peace from the sometimes hectic tourist areas.  The area is pristine and the volunteers that have maintained the trails have done an excellent job.  The trails are safe and free from liter.  

I believe that purchasing an easement for public access, working with the local property owners and perhaps fencing-off the private lands will  benefit everyone.  No one wants to infringe on the rights of private property owners, but working together we can keep the area open and still provide protection to the property owners.  

Please consider helping us keep such a beautiful area open to all.  It would be  such a pity that we should have to drive hours to experience this type of solitude that sits just 20 minutes from most Kona areas.

Thank you for your consideration.

Respectfully submitted,

Ken Pool 

Kailua Kona, HI

_________________________________________________________________

__________________________________________________

Lower Kaloko Trail

2/24/2021

Since over 15 years my favorite activity is to hike in Kaloko. It keeps me healthy physical and gives me mental relaxation from hectic day to day life. I really miss my walks on the lower Kaloko trail! I used to hike 3-4 times a week with friends as well as alone.  Please open this trail up again for the public. I feel so connected to Hawaii and it’s culture when I am in this cloud forest. 

Aloha 

Ursula Vietze 

P.O. Box 2652

Kailua Kona, HI 96745 

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Part of Attachment D. Attachment D: Provide verification of community organizations, land trusts, or individuals, who are. willing to be part of the long-term management /maintenance of this property.

RE: ONGOING KALOKO TRAIL MAINTENANCE since the 1990s

by JEFF McDEVITT and GRANT MILLER

TO: Public Access, Open Space and Natural Resources Commission

Dear commissioners,

This is to verify that Grant Miller and Jeff McDevitt, members of PATH, Peoples Advocacy for Trails Hawaii, were asked by DOFAW, department of Forestry and Wildlife, to build hiking and biking trails in the newly commissioned forest reserve at the end of Makahi Street adjacent to the Kaloko residential subdivision in the mid-1900s. PATH is a nonprofit who graciously agreed to be the sponsor for this volunteer, community work including necessary bookkeeping. The two above PATH members had trail building experience and agreed to become the leaders of the volunteer trail building/maintenance crew, designing and building these trails. DLNR subsequently established an MOA with PATH, designating it to be the official trail maintenance crew for the forest reserve trail system, but we maintained an adjoining, small section of trail that crossed through 3 private Ag parcels in the Kaloko subdivision as well (explained below).The main trail in the system was originally built to carry a historic water pipeline traversing Hualalai Mountain from Palani Ranch to Puuwaawaa Ranch in the 1920s, as I have more completely explained in the history of the trails which is included in the application.

A short remnant of that historic trail remains in modern times and has been used heavily by the community for hiking and biking with a sole entrance at Hao St, that initially traversed three private Ag parcels and then continued northward across the adjacent forest reserve. The trail system in the forest reserve was an extension of this old Pipeline trail. We designed the entire trail system in the forest reserve as an extension off of this small segment crossing private land, but included in the design a second, direct entrance into the reserve at the end of Makahi street, the next street up above Hao. The three private land owners did not object to the public continuing to use this old historic trail traversing their properties for the past 30 years or more, which of course predates the building of the entire subdivision anyway. However we encouraged the hikers and bikers to use the Makahi entrance in the future.

It should be noted that this small portion of the trail with entrance at Hao street that crosses the three private residential parcels is on County land in the Kaloko subdivision, then transitions to State land in the forest reserve immediately adjacent to the subdivision border. So while we are talking about two separate areas, the trail crew has maintained the entire system for the benefit of the community over the years.

However, in the last two years one of the 3 private parcels was sold and the new owner has posted no trespassing signs, intends to fence it off, and remove it from use by the public forever. We are hoping to purchase an easement from this owner that would allow us to move the trail to the very end of his property and still allow entrance for the hikers. The trail entrance at Makahi Street is very steep, rugged and difficult for hikers. We just didn’t have good terrain to work with but it was the only access point from the roadway directly into the reserve. Hikers sorely miss the level terrain of the old entrance at Hao Street that they have used for the past 30 years. Many of them pleaded with us to bring it back and so we are trying.

Regarding our commitment to maintaining the trails: Grant Miller and I have maintained these trails ever since they were built beginning in 1993. We are both avid mountain bikers and these are no other trails available for hiking/biking in the Kona district forests that I am aware of. I can assure you that we are committed to continuing this effort indefinitely. We have a long track record of consistent and physically taxing trail work, so you can be assured we will continue in the future. Our nonprofit will also plan to expand the effort to other trail systems such as Kalopa State Park to assist the Rangers there with trail maintenance and hopefully Kulani forest in Hilo.

The hikers love us for the work we do on these trails. I chat with them every time they pass me while working on the trail, and we have a good relationship. With the pandemic, trail usage increased dramatically as being in this beautiful forest induces serenity and peace of mind.

Sadly, the PATH nonprofit recently came under severe financial pressure and had to cut back many functions including sponsoring our trail maintenance effort, since they depend on donations and grants to function and this money dried up significantly with the pandemic.

We are going to form our own 501(c)(3) to continue caring for the trails, including the small section of the trail which is now closed, which is the subject of this application, in the hopes that the new owner will agree to sell an easement or a small fee simple acquisition at the end of his property to continue allowing the trail to be used by the community. Debbie Hecht is graciously helping us in to finding funding for purchasing this easement and fencing it off via this application to PONC. If approved by the commission, we will reroute the trail entrance to the far west end of the Ha’o Street landowners property to make this more agreeable to him and to hook up to the trail crossing the two other landowners to reach the Homua’ula Forest Reserve.

We are hopeful that you will understand how much the hikers and bikers treasure this forest reserve in Kona and look favorably upon our application for the grant money and the easement. I would encourage all of you to take a hike on our trails and see how beautiful it is in the forest.

Submitted respectfully by Jeff McDevitt on 2/24/21. Jeffmcd65@gmail.com

____________________________________________________________________________________________

February 24, 2021
To: Public Access, Open Space and Natural Resources Commission.

From: Grant Miller, owner of Bike Works, avid mountain biker and member of trail maintenance crew since 1990s.

RE: Acquisition of Kaloko Trail

Dear Commissioners,
I am writing today to request that the 2% Land Fund purchase a small piece of land that the public has been using for around 30 years to gain access into the Makaula O’oma section of the Honua’ula Forest Reserve.

Jeff Mcdevitt and myself have been maintaining the trails in this forest since the early 1990’s at the request of the DOFAW. For the majority of the life of this trail system, most people found that the best way to access the trails was from Hao St using an old water pipe right of way (many people called this section the Hao St Trail). About two years ago the parcel with this right of way on it, was sold and the new owner has closed off the use of this entry way. This forces everyone to use the upper trail entrance on Makahi Street which is very rugged and restricts access to anyone with physical challenges -mainly really young kids or the elderly. I would like to see the Kaloko Trail open back up as it will allow more access and also alleviate the congestion of parking that we get with only one entrance.

I would like to ensure assure this commission that Jeff and I are going through the process of forming a 501c3 so we can formally apply for stewardship funds of to continue maintaining this parcel. It would be a natural and easy addition to the much larger trail system in the forest reserve that we maintain already. We are committed to this responsibility for as long as we are able. There are many other volunteers from the biking and hiking communities that will help also.

Lastly, the west side of the Big Island really needs all the help it can get to help open up “mauka” parks and trails. We have many parks along the ocean but only one that I know of in the rainforest. Let’s make this forest trail one of the best on the islands with more then one entrance and one that can be used by all of us in our community.

Thanks for your time,
Grant Miller. grant@bikeworkskona.com

__________________________________________________________________________________

Attachment E: Provide summaries or abstracts instead of full reports. Include within the summary, citations or links to reference the documentation related to the suggested site or project. This would assist the Commission in their assessments.

1) How would the general public benefit from this proposed acquisition or project?

The public would benefit from the proposed acquisition in the following ways:

  • Restore access to a much used and beloved fairly level, wide trail for hiking, biking, nature walks, bird watching, for exploration and preservation of natural vegetation and animal habitat, into perpetuity for citizens and visitors. Most of the trail is at 2,800 feet in elevation. Please see maps in Attachments A and B.
  • Responsible stewardship through a 501c3 organization led by long term maintenance and trail builders Jeff McDevitt and Grant Miller, who will ensure proper upkeep and maintenance so the trail system can be available at all times for use by residents and visitors, as a place for nature immersion for generations to come. See Grant and Jeff’s statements in Attachment D
  • The Kaloko Trail hooks up to the larger trail system on Hawaii State lands of Makula-O’oma Section of the Honua’ula Forest Reserve trail system, maintained by Na Ala Hele.
  • Outdoor recreation contributes to the economic vitality of the Kona community by attracting citizens and visitors to enjoy the natural beauty of the Island, as a living classroom for recreation and exercise.
  • 2) Describe any significant historic, cultural or natural resources of the property. There are extensive lists of unique plants and animals that inhabit this area of Hualālai Mountain’s jungle cloud forest habitat. The Makaula-O’oma Section of the Honua’ula Forest Reserve is a 1,252-acre section of quality native forest frequented by native birds, which is the only publicly owned forest reserve on Hualālai mountain that is open to the public. Other publicly owned sections are landlocked by private property. Extensive planting in this area of Koa and other native trees are enhancing critical native habitat for rare and endangered native species. Because the Ha’o Street entrance onto the trail makes it accessible to people of all ages, school groups and seniors this area could be a living cloud forest classroom and immersion together with great recreation.
  • 2)  Describe and include maps showing a significant relationship to larger historical ,cultural and or natural landscape: This trail would link to the larger trail system Makula-O’oma Section of the 1,252-acre Honua’ula Forest Reserve Trail System. See maps in Section B.
  • 3)  Describe level of urgency(i.e., is property currently on the market /for how long, has an active re-zoning/subdivision application been filed, high public use, etc.)
    • The proposed trail easement would cross Parcels 1, 2 and 3 as shown on the Proposed Trail Map in Attachment B
    • The owner of Parcel 3 is moving forward with plans to fence his 21+ acres to fence out the public and restore plant life and control the habitat. If PONC approves this parcel the trail could be moved before he restores the habitat on the property and the trail fenced off. Parcels 1 and 2 would be less impacted but are more willing to help the public with access.
    • Parcel 3 is not currently on the market however the current owner of Parcel 3 has been approached with offers to sell the property outright and has not yet been in agreement. The homeowner plans to build on the portion closer to Kaloko. If we can relocate the trail and fence it off from the southern homesite portion, we believe the landowner may be in agreement.
    • Discussions are currently underway with the owners of Parcels 1, 2 and 3 to purchase outright acquisition OR establishment of a Trail Easement or Grant of Public Access Easements.
    • There is some urgency, and we hope to be considered for the late 2021 Report to the Mayor, to move forward on acquisition, fencing and restoring the trail to public use before massive restoration and fencing take place. We believe this will result in a win/win for the property owners and for the public.
  • 5)  Describe any special opportunities for acquisition that presently exist.(Special funding available, etc.)
    • It is the applicant’s intent to access the 2% Land Fund to acquire land and/or purchase a Trail Easement or Grant of Public Access Easement. No other source(s) of funding have been identified at this time however research is underway to secure other funding sources that may be utilized, such as grants. We do not anticipate this to be a large expenditure for the 2% Land Fund, especially if a Grant of Public Access Easement is used for acquisition.
    • Once the acquisition or easement process has been completed, a Maintenance Fund Stewardship grant will be applied for upkeep, physical improvements, such as parking and bathrooms and to offset the costs of volunteer work as is allowed by County Charter.
    • BIG PICTURE TRAIL ACQUISITION: Another special opportunity is the use of Trail Easements or Grant of Public Access Easements. To my knowledge this has never been done. When I wrote the original legislation in 2006 with Council member Brenda Ford we hoped more trails would be opened island-wide, hence the name Public Access, Open Space and Natural Resources. I personally hope that this acquisition would pave the way for more trails. (My opinion- Debbie Hecht)
  • 6)  Has partnering with other government agencies, private or nonprofit entities to leverage resources (funding, grants, managing partnerships) been identified? Yes X No Unknown If yes, please describe
    • The applicant is in discussion with several, local nongovernmental entities to support this application and to form the 501c3 non-profit that will be responsible for stewardship and maintenance
    • These include, but are not limited to the Kona Hiking Club, Moku O’ Keawe Land Conservancy, and a soon to be incorporated 501c3. In the past this group has worked with PATH (People’s Advocacy Trails Hawaii) and Na Ala Hele.
    • The formation of the private non-profit is a work-in-progress and its formation, development will parallel the efforts to obtain the Commission’s approval of the proposed acquisition.
  • 7)  Is/Are the landowner(s) aware of this suggestion and willing to participate? XX Yes No Unknown If yes, please submit a letter form the landowner (s). The three landowners are currently aware of this proposal and discussions are underway for acquisition. Substantive discussions are currently underway as noted in item 4 above, in efforts to reach mutually acceptable terms for all parties. We believe that this acquisition will involve a contractual commitment by the County to fence part of Parcel 3 and relocate the trail on that property to a more northern location.

8) Is/Are the property(s) or property easement(s) available for acquisition? Yes No XX Unknown If yes, please describe.
• As noted in item 7 above, discussions are ongoing for property easement or acquisition. We are committed to this process and will update and notify the Commission of our progress.

9) Are there any covenants, encumbrances, restrictions (i.e. association or maintenance), or easements? If yes, please describe.

• To the best of our knowledge there are no covenants, encumbrances or restrictions on any of the three parcels in question that would preclude successful implementation of the proposed trail easement or alignment. As more information becomes available we will update the Commission.

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