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Agreement signed on Ala Kahakai National Historic Trail

Patricia Neubacher, National Park Service Pacific West Region deputy director, signs the memorandum of understanding that will guide management of Ala Kahakai National Historic Trail. *Hawaii 24/7 photo by Karin Stanton)

Karin Stanton | Hawaii 24/7 Contributing Editor

The Ala Kahakai National Historic Trail now has guardians at the federal, state and county levels after representatives signed a memorandum of understanding Saturday, Feb. 21 to cooperatively manage, protect and preserve its public use.

Signatures from the National Park Service regional deputy director, lieutenant governor and county deputy managing director will ease the way for trail alignments, and manage, maintain and regulate activities along the approximately 175-mile trail.

Aric Arakaki, superintendent of Ala Kahakai National Historic Trail, said the memorandum ensures the trail’s legacy for future generations.

“This formalizes the partnership to work on the comprehensive management plan,” he said, referring to the 168-page document that spells out the management strategy over the next 15 years.

“This is special. It’s the oldest trail and was built by Native Hawaiians,” Arakaki said. “It’s really a continuation of the ocean trails that brought the Polynesian people here.”

Lt. Gov. James “Duke” Aiona signed on behalf of the state.

Lt. Gov. James "Duke" Aiona signs the memorandum of understanding. (Hawaii 24/7 photo by Karin Stanton)

“This is very significant,” he said. “It brings together all the community partners, all the hands are coming together. Government is only the facilitator and we’ve got to take leadership on this. It will be a model for other trail systems.”

Also signing the memorandum Saturday at Spencer Beach Park were Patricia Neubacher, NPS Pacific West Region deputy director; state Department of Land and Natural Resources chairwoman Laura Thielen; and county deputy managing director Wally Lau.

Because ancient trail segments run through federal, state, county and private lands, the agreement was necessary to facilitate management.

For example, the segment between Puukohola Heiau National Historic Site and Anaehoomalu Bay runs through resorts, state and county parks, and the Waialea and Puako communities. Already part of the Na Ala Hele Trails and Access Program, this 15-mile section should be fully restored by NPS and DLNR within two years, Arakaki said.

The trail, which runs from Opolu Point to South Point and on Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, is one of only 18 trails in the U.S. with the historic designation. It earned the designation in 2000.

While there was no ancient trail with the name Ala Kahakai, Arakaki said sections of ancient footpaths, beach trails and jeep roads have been linked together to create the corridor.

Eventually, he said, residents and visitors will be able to enjoy a continuous, community-managed path that follows the shoreline from Upolu Point, through the North Kohala, South Kohala, North Kona, South Kona; Ka’u and Puna districts, to the eastern boundary of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.

Led by the Ala Kahakai Trail Association and E Mau Na Ala Hele, more than one dozen community groups assisted in the creation of the comprehensive management plan, which focuses on the 75-mile section from Kawaihae to Hookena.

It addresses not only the physical improvements to the trail, but “the connections families have to the land,” Arakaki said.

“It’s good stewardship,” he said. “It’s not Hollywood Hawaii or trivial Hawaii.”

The trail system also will showcase Hawaii’s nature, culture and history to visitors.

“Tourism is a by-product,” Arakaki said. “It’s an added part for the tourist industry.”

The community vision for the trail seeks to:

* preserve ancient and historic trails within the corridor and
tell the stories of those who use them
* provide access to practice traditional lifestyles and malama aina (care for the land)
* protect sacred sites, historic places, and natural areas
* become a living classroom for educating Hawaii’s people and visitors
* offer opportunities for community partnerships based
on the ahupuaa concept
* create safe and well-kept places for spiritual, cultural,
and recreational practices
* unite local communities around common goals to preserve Hawaii’s culture and environment

— Find out more:

County Deputy Managing Director Wally Lau, NPS regional director Patricia Neubacher, Superintendent Aric Arakaki, Lt. Gov. James "Duke" Aiona, DLNR chairwoman Laura Thielen. (Hawaii 24/7 photo by Karin Stanton)

One Response to “Agreement signed on Ala Kahakai National Historic Trail”

  1. Bryan says:

    Periodic camping facilities with water would be great for through hiking.


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