In the Spring of 2011, Sunset Ranch was contacted by the land owner of approximately 212 acres of land in Pupukea on the North Shore of Oahu. As it turns out, the land is the largest remaining developable acreage in Pupukea, and surrounds one of Oahu's most important cultural sites: Pu'u O Mahuka. While existing zoning allows for a 77-lot subdivision; the land owner inquired about the possibilities of protecting the land. The great thing about this story? The land owner had visited Sunset Ranch, read about how Sunset Ranch was forever protected, and subsequently contacted us inquiring as to whether or not a conservation easement could work for him. After several months of meetings, in addition to quite a bit of work to determine the value and structure of a possible deal, we're happy to say that the land owner has agreed to pursuing a conservation easement on the property. Sunset Ranch is assisting the land owner through the entire process.
In order to understand just how important it is to protect this land, we want to provide you with the following "project value considerations": (i) Property History and Location, (ii) Conservation Plan (land owner's vision), (iii) Project Sponsorship, (iv) Preliminary Valuation and Deal Structure, and (v) Community Support.
(i) Property History and Location
We provide some good background on Pu'u O Mahuka in a previous blog. We encourage you to read it so that you have a clear understanding of its place in Hawaiian history. You can access the blog here. As far as the history of the land surrounding Pu'u O Mahuka? Our knowledge begins in the early part of the 20th century. The land was primarily used for cattle ranching, pineapple farming and a mix of agricultural uses. In recent decades past, less and less of the land was used for active agricultural purposes primarily due to the high costs associated with farming. The economics simply didn't make sense for the previous land owner. As a result, more and more of the land began to sit fallow and invasive plants slowly started to take over. We are excited to now be working with the current land owner to: (i) perpetually protect the land, and (ii) reestablish active agricultural and outdoor uses for the benefit of the community and public.
Please understand that the property has panoramic views of the entire northwest side of the island, and is surrounded by some of the largest preserves in Hawaii. These characteristics alone, make this property of significant value, especially under a theoretical development scenario. Here is a brief summary of the lands surrounding this special piece of property:
Pu’u O Mahuka is adjacent the Property on the west end of the bluff. As stated previously, Pu’u O Mahuka is one of the most important cultural sites on Oahu and its importance is reason alone to protect the land surrounding it. Pu'u O Mahuka was officially identified as a National Historic Landmark in 1962. While the State of Hawaii, Parks Division, owns the heiau and a very small buffer around it; the land owner is agreeable to providing State Parks additional acreage around the heiau, something the State has been looking for since statehood. The additional buffer has already been identified and will not be included in the conservation easement. This leaves approximately 195 acres for the conservation easement.
North Shore Marine Sanctuary. The property is located just east of the North Shore Marine Sanctuary and has spectacular unobstructed views of the entire area. The Sanctuary is a conservation district (NOAA) that extends from Waimea Bay to Sharks Cove and slightly beyond. It is home to a variety of marine animals, corals, and plants and it is well documented that the sanctuary constitutes one of the world’s most important habitats for the endangered North Pacific humpback whale.
Waimea Valley comprises approximately 1875 acres of historic Hawaiian land and is located just south and southeast of the property. Waimea Valley was acquired in June of 2006 and is currently protected by a conservation easement: forever protected as one of Hawaii’s most valuable cultural sites and botanical gardens. Due to the significance of Pu’u O Mahuka in relation to Waimea Valley, the current owner of the valley has provided us with a Letter of Support for this project.
Pupukea-Paumalu. The property lies south, southwest of the Pupukea-Paumalu site. Pupukea-Paumalu comprises approximately 1129 acres of Hawaiian land purchased by an investment consortium in June of 2007 and is now also permanently protected with a conservation easement. Ownership of the Pupukea-Puamalu land is divided between the State of Hawaii and the City and County of Honolulu. The North Shore Community Land Trust (NSCLT) is currently working with the State to establish a curatorship agreement and help oversee the uses of the land. NSCLT is also extremely supportive of our efforts to protect the property, and has also provided a Letter of Support.
A Charitable Foundation Corp. There are three parcels of land approximating ninety-four acres adjacent the Property to the south and southeast. These parcels are currently owned by A Charitable Foundation Corp. and are in the process of being preserved and subsequently donated to the State for public use. This land will therefore soon be accessible to the public for trail hikes along the north ridgeline of Waimea Valley. The subject property, if protected, will effectively serve as a buffer zone between the residential community of Pupukea and the many hikers, mountain bikers and hunters that will eventually be accessing this land. A representative of A Charitable Foundation Corp. has also provided us with a Letter of Support for the project.
(ii) Conservation Plan
We will providing more details here in a future blog. For now, it is important to know that the land owner is committed to not only permanently protecting the property, but transforming it through the thoughtful implementation of a conservation plan. His long term vision for the property is to reestablish a large portion of it to active agricultural use, servicing the community of Pupukea in addition to visitors to Hawaii. He hopes to provide an interactive visitor destination that will focus on educating the public to productive agricultural methods that include environmental learning stations, outdoor food tasting stations, and possibly a farmers market. His vision also calls for: (i) increasing acreage to dedicated pasture and grazing lands, (ii) a forest restoration project, and (ii) expanding and enhancing existing equine activities. We adamantly believe that these efforts will dramatically transform the property into a site that fosters growth of community interest and involvement in land conservation and sustainability.
(iii) Project Sponsorship
The Hawaiian Islands Land Trust (HILT) has reviewed this project in detail, and is excited about sponsoring it through the funding process to ensure its perpetual protection. Furthermore, HILT will be responsible for the enforcement of the conservation easement on the property once recorded. This effort will be supported by the establishment of a stewardship fund that will be funded by the land owner. HILT will conduct annual site visits and ensure compliance with the conservation easement, as drafted and executed. To learn more about HILT, please check out their web-site here.
(iv) Preliminary Valuation and Deal Structure
A preliminary range of value has been delivered by John Child & Company, a well known appraiser in Honolulu. John Child & Company has been involved with numerous conservation easement projects throughout Hawaii and clearly understands that the success of these projects often hinges on the estimate of value. The land owner understands the restrictions a conservation easement will place on the property, he has accepted the preliminary range of value, and perhaps most importantly, he is donating 25% of the conservation easement value to the project. We hope to secure the remainder of the conservation easement funding through certain federal programs (50%) and the City and County's Clean Water Natural Lands fund (25%).
(v) Community Support
Given the significance of the project, and in consideration of preliminary meetings with the following, we have received and are in the process of receiving Letters of Support from: (i) Hi’ipaka (owner and operator of Waimea Valley), (ii) the North Shore Community Land Trust, (iii) a Charitable Foundation Corp, (iv) State Parks Division of the State of Hawaii, (v) the Sunset Beach Community Association, (vi) the North Shore Community Association, and (vii) local government officials, community members and surrounding land owners.
We hope after reviewing this Blog you agree that this is an important piece of land to protect. We would love to hear your thoughts about this project. Please feel free to contact us with any questions or if you'd like to discuss this project in more detail. We can be reached at (808)638-8333 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Mahalo nui loa for your support!
We're excited to welcome "Baby Huey" to Sunset Ranch! As one of the most beautiful and friendly horses we have EVER seen, Baby Huey is officially our mascot and we're so excited to have him as part of our horse family. He will slowly be integrated into our horsemanship programs (HEART: Hawaii Equine Assisted Reflection & Therapy), and available for photo shoots, educational tours, events and retreats. If you're interested in meeting Baby Huey, or scheduling a HEART session, photo shoot or tour at Sunset Ranch, give us a call at (808)638-8333, or e-mail us at email@example.com. Mahalo nui loa for your continued support of Sunset Ranch!
In the interest of sharing our venues at Sunset Ranch with those that can easily come out for a site tour; we're excited to announce that on-line VIRTUAL TOURS are now available. These tours will provide a 360 degree look at each one of our venues. Enjoy!
We would love to get your feedback on our VIRTUAL TOURS at Sunset Ranch. Please also contact us with any questions, or for additional pictures or site details, at (808)638-8333 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Mahalo nui loa for your continued support of Sunset Ranch!
At Sunset Ranch Hawaii, we continue to be focused on our mission of helping advance land conservation and sustainability in Hawaii. Mahalo to INNOV8 Magazine (Go! Airlines) for sharing our story!
Please check out our new land conservation tri-fold brochures. These will be distributed at every event hosted at Sunset Ranch, in the spirit of helping advance land conservation and sustainability in Hawaii. We would love any feedback or input you may have before these go to print. Mahalo! email@example.com (808)638-8333
In an effort to continue to build meaningful Horsemanship programs at Sunset Ranch, we're pleased to announce our partnership with Hawai’i Equine Assisted Reflection & Therapy LLC (HEART). HEART provides therapy programs for youth, adults, families, and other individuals and groups that incorporate horses for growth, learning and healing. While the HEART program offering includes unforgettable interactive experiences with horses; the 'heart' of their offering involves experiences in psychotherapy and learning that culminate in lasting and meaningful change for each and every participant.
"HEART envisions helping people live happier and healthier lives by providing an alternative, effective, and innovative approach to healing" - Carina Cooper
The HEART treatment philosophy resonates with the EAGALA model. HEART believes that their clients hold the best solutions for themselves. In the EAGALA model of Equine Assisted Psychotherapy (EAP) and Equine Assisted Learning (EAL), each therapeutic session is facilitated by an Equine Specialist and a Mental Health Specialist. Working with the horses as a team, HEART provides the opportunities to interact with horses, and then process these interactions with the client focusing on real solutions that are applicable to each individual.
Please review our Sunset Ranch calendar for upcoming HEART demonstrations and programs. Sunset Ranch is hosting an OPEN HOUSE for HEART on Saturday, May 5, 2012. More details on this event can be found in the flier below. Come out and join us, and learn what HEART is all about! We are so pleased to be working with a company focused on doing so much good for the community of Hawaii. Please contact us with any questions, or for more information at (808)638-8333 or firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also contact Carina Cooper of HEART directly at (808)561-4184, or at www.hearthorses.com. Mahalo nui loa!
How familiar are you with culturally significant lands in Hawaii? At Sunset Ranch, part of our mission of "helping advance land conservation and self-sustainability" involves improving our understanding of the aina (land). The process of establishing a conservation easement on Sunset Ranch, which permanently protected the site, taught us not only about the surrounding area's historical significance, but the importance of protecting it. Thanks to the North Shore Community Land Trust (NSCLT), we continue to learn more and more about the history of the aina that surrounds us. Specifically, the NSCLT's "Greenprint" initiative helps identify the characteristics of North Shore lands, and prioritize protection efforts. An area of particular interest to Sunset Ranch? The land surrounding Pu'u O Mahuka (Hill of Escape): Oahu's largest heiau (important religous site or temple).
Pu'u O Mahuka sits atop the bluff just north of Waimea Bay, makai (towards the ocean, or west) of Sunset Ranch (photo circa 1930). The heiau is undoubtedly one of the more culturally significant sites on Oahu's North Shore. It played a critical role in the social, political and religious dynamic of the Hawaiian community living in Waimea Valley. Thanks to information obtained from Hawaii State Parks, here are some additional details on Pu'u O Mahuka:
1. The heiau was likely constructed by the Hawaiians in the 1600's, and covers approximately two acres. The picture on the right clearly shows Pu'u O Mahuka's strategic location relative to Waimea Valley. The picture (circa 1930) is a view of the heiau (left) looking mauka (towards the mountains, or east) towards Waimea Valley;
2. We know that Waimea Valley was home to a large Hawaiian community during the 'pre-contact period', or before Captain Cook's arrival to the islands. Given the heiau's location on the bluff, historians believe that Pu'u O Mahuka was often used by Hawaiians living in Waimea Valley to communicate with Hawaiians at a heiau in Wailua on Kauai. Communication would have been via extremely large signal fires. The picture below, taken in the 1970s, provides a great view overlooking the heiau facing makai. Try to imagine what it may have looked like when the Hawaiians were using signal fires and communicating with residents of Kauai.
3. Pu'u O Mahuka had three distinct wall enclosures ranging from three to six feet in height. The heiau was most likely built by commoners, with construction overseen by an ali'i nui (high ranking chief) and his priests (kahuna). Within the walls of the heiau existed wood and thatched structures, and the ground was paved with stone;
4. New ruling chiefs very well may have modified the heiau. In fact, it is believed that the mauka portion of Pu'u O Mahuka was likely built first, and was primarily used as the ceremonial section of the heaiu. The makai enclosures are presumed to have been added later, perhaps in the 1700s. These areas were likely used as the sacrificial areas of the heiau; and
5. In the 1770s, a high ranking priest named Ka'opulupulu (under Oahu Chief Kahalana) oversaw Pu'u O Mahuka. This was a time of war in Hawaii, and it is presumed that the heiau was often used as a sacrificial site. After Kamehameha I conquered Oahu in 1795, his high priest Hewahewa conducted religious ceremonies at Pu'u O Mahuka. It is believed that ceremonial use of the heiau continued until 1819. Study of Cook's Voyages suggest that after Captain Cook was killed at Kealakekua Bay in 1779, the HMS Resolution landed in Waimea Bay to stock up on water. Imagine what the view may have been like from Pu'u O Mahuka.
So the historical significance of Pu'u O Mahuka is very clear. That said, what is the current state of the heiau and the lands surrounding it? We have some great news to share. While the State of Hawaii (State Parks) owns Pu'u O Mahuka and a very small buffer around it; there is only one private land owner of the more than 200 acres that surround the heiau. Subsequent closing of the conservation easement at Sunset Ranch, we were contacted by the land owner to discuss the possibilities of protecting this 200+ acre site. The entire parcel is currently undeveloped, prime agricultural lands that wraps around Pu'u O Mahuka and works its way mauka up into the community of Pupukea.
We're currently talking to the land owner about two primary objectives: (i) increasing the size of the State owned buffer around Pu'u O Mahuka; and (ii) protecting the remaining 200 acres of agricultural lands with a conservaion easement. In partnership with the local community, the North Shore Community Land Trust and the Hawaiian Islands Land Trust (HILT), we hope that this vision will soon become a reality. The land is simply too important to not protect, and the current zoning provides the potential for at least a 77 lot subidivision. With current ownership in the hands of a conservation minded land owner, now may possibly be the best time to assure this special site's perpetual protection.
Hopefully this blog has provided a better understanding of Pu'u O Mahuka, and why we're so excited about the possibility of protecting the land surrounding it. Land that is just a short distance from Sunset Ranch. We hope that our small success story of protecting our approximate thirty acre site can help facilitate the protection of this important land. While it will be no easy task; we're committed to helping all parties involved any way we can.
If you haven't already seen Pu'u O Mahuka, please take the time to explore it. And while there, please think about what you've learned from this blog. The site truly has some of the most spectacular views of Oahu's North Shore. Also, if you have more information on Pu'u O Mahuka, or would like to discuss it further, please contact us at (808)638-8333. Please also feel free to e-mail us at email@example.com. We would love to hear from you. If you would like more information on the North Shore Community Land Trust's "Greenprinting" efforts, please click here, or contact Doug Cole at (808)497-0036. Mahalo nui loa!
The Trust for Public Land (TPL) is a national non-profit organization with a mission of 'protecting land for people'. TPL's work started in Hawaii in 1979 on the Big Island, with the protection of approximately 279 acres of Volcano National Park. To date, TPL has helped protect over 36,000 acres throughout Hawaii, including projects on every major island. Teaming up with the North Shore Community Land Trust (NSCLT) in 2008, TPL also played a critical role in the protection of Sunset Ranch. The local TPL staff assisted us with all elements of the fundraising process, from application processing to site visits to presentations to meeting after meeting after meeting. Their involvement was invaluable and we simply could not have completed the project without their assistance and support.
Similar to the NSCLT, TPL has played, and continues to play, a critical role in the protection of land on Oahu's North Shore. A couple of notable TPL land conservation successess near Sunset Ranch include: (i) Pupukea-Paumalu (~1129 acres north of Sunset Ranch), a property that was potentially subject to significant commercial and residential development; and (ii) Waimea Valley (~1875 acres south of Sunset Ranch), a culturally significant parcel also threatened by development. Currently, TPL and the NSCLT are working together to protect over 400 acres near Turtle Bay, referred to as: Turtle Bay Mauka Agricultural Lands.
The aforementioned land conservation projects are just a few examples of TPL's efforts in Hawaii. Thanks to TPL and other organizations like the NSCLT, all of this important land has been, or is in the process of being, permanently protected.
The Trust for Public Land is an incredible organization comprised of exceptional individuals who have nothing but the best interests of Hawaii residents in mind. If you're interested in land conservation in Hawaii, TPL is an organization you should know about. Here is their stated mission:
The Trust for Public Land conserves land for people to enjoy as parks, gardens, and other natural places, ensuring livable communities for generations to come.
If you're interseted in meeting the local TPL team, come join us at Sunset Ranch for the NSCLT benefit on Saturday, November 5, 2011 at 5:00 pm. You can buy tickets here. For more information on TPL, contact their local Hawaii office at (808)524-8560. We also recommend that you visit their web-site at TPL Hawaii. The time for land conservation in Hawaii is now. Get involved. Mahalo!
Those of you familiar with our mission at Sunset Ranch know that we've been working on an Environmental Learning Center ("ELC") now for quite some time. We wish we could move faster, but permitting takes time and of course we want to make certain we do this right. All that said, we do have some good news to share: our use permits for our proposed farming efforts at Sunset Ranch have been approved. We are now in the process of finalizing the design and build out of the facility. Once our building permits are received, we will be well on our way. The current design of the ELC includes: (i) a welcome center, (ii) a Native Hawaiian Nursery (a separate section of the ELC, and discussed in a previous blog), and (iii) an aquaponics facility. So as it relates to Farming at Sunset Ranch, aquaponics is where our primary focus will be. A highly productive method of farming for any resident in Hawaii.
We want to educate the local community and Hawaii's visitors on what aquaponics is, why it is a viable farming method, how it really works, and how best to use it to supplement existing food intake. We will also go so far as to say that we hope, for some, aquaponics will become a primary food source. As we've stated in the past, we believe Hawaii has a five to six day food supply in the event of any natural disaster or economic crisis. The fact of the matter is, we need to be better prepared. We simply rely too much on those ships arriving into Honolulu harbor each and every day. This dialogue has been on-going for quite some time now. We understand that. But the truth is, for the most part, we continue to just talk about it and go on living as we always have. Times are a changing. We need to take more proactive steps towards addressing this problem, and making sure we're prepared to take care of ourselves in the event of a crisis. It's about paving the road to self-sustainability. At Sunset Ranch, we simply want to be a part of that road.
While our primary focus is on education; we also plan to develop an aquaponics system that can be purchased and easily transported and assembled in an urban setting. This is critical to our mission at Sunset Ranch. The pictures you see on this blog are of a large facility. Believe it or not, however, there are small backyard systems, and even balcony systems, that can provide you with a significant amount of food. We want to create a system that you can fit in your car, you can assemble at home, and get busy making food. In our opinion, knowledge is quickly lost if not put to regular use. We want you to actively put to work what you learn at Sunset Ranch. On a daily basis. Better yet, we want it to be part of your daily routine. Yes! Brush your teeth, and then go check on the tilapia before you run off to work! When it comes to taking care of ourselves and the community in which we live, there is nothing more important than getting actively engaged and beginning to contribute in ways that help make a difference. Again, we're hopeful that our product offering will enable visitors to take what they learn at Sunset Ranch and put it into active use.
As many are aware, there are a lot of farmers doing aquaponics throughout Hawaii. And many are VERY good at it. In fact, many of them are responsible for introducing us to, and getting us excited about, this great farming method. A farming method that has been around for quite some time. At Sunset Ranch, we want to create real excitement around aquaponics. We understand. People can only get so excited about growing fish and vegetables, right? Wrong. We want to make it cool! We want to make it the next hot trend not only for the farming community, but for every resident in Hawaii. A bit ambitious, yes. But possible. Our hope is that our facility experience, combined with our product offering, will make this vision a reality. Again, the ultimate goal is to help start creating that path towards self-sustainability for the residents of Hawaii.
So what do you know about aquaponics? At Sunset Ranch, we truly believe it is the way to a sustainable future in Hawaii. As we continue to work towards finalizing our Environmental Learning Center, please contact us to discuss any and all ideas and thoughts you may have to make this facility like no other. We appreciate any and all feedback. Mahalo nui loa for your continued support!
Sunset Ranch has teamed up with the Boy Scouts of America's Aloha Council to offer Scouts the opportunity to obtain their Horsemanship Merit Badge. Programs are offered to individuals and troops throughout the year and during summer camps.
Shortly following their arrival at Sunset Ranch, Scouts go out to the lower pasture, catch their equine partners for the day and begin theexciting, hands-on learning process. Each day Scouts practice the skills covered in the Horsemanship Merit Badge Handbook, including: grooming, saddling, riding, and over-all care. Other topics covered in this exclusive program include equine health, anatomy, nutrition, breeds, and tack.
Daily rides focus on obtaining the mounted skills required for the Horsemanship Merit Badge. Mounted skills learned include: walking, trotting, turning, stopping, and backing. One unique aspect to our program at Sunset Ranch is that Scouts are encouraged to try both English and Western style riding.
The Horsemanship Merit Badge at Sunset Ranch is arguably one of the more exciting, challenging, and rewarding merit badges that your Scout will obtain. Here are some comments from recent Scout participants:
"I’m so grateful for your time and attention with the boys; Nic is just thrilled and asked if he could skip Boy Scout camp and just pitch his tent on your lawn by the barn! He is very interested in community service at Sunset Ranch and taking riding lessons in the near future! "
"We ran past our time because we were having so much fun and learning a ton!"
"Sunset Ranch is right next to Camp Pupukea and the view there is beautiful. We all really enjoyed being at the ranch and working with the horses."
"(At Sunset Ranch), we (not only achieved) our Horsemanship Merit Badges, but had so much fun and learned a great deal of valuable information."
Please contact us at (808)638-8333 for more information regarding our Horsemanship Merit Badge offering, or any other riding programs at Sunset Ranch. Mahalo nui loa!
Sunset Ranch is very excited to announce that we're now officially hosting: Sunset Ranch Horse Parties! Guests are provided exclusive access to this private, thirty acre estate for an experience like no other in Hawaii. Enjoy breathtaking ocean and island views while you spend special time with family, friends and members of our Sunset Ranch horse family! As with all of our efforts at Sunset Ranch, we're offering these Horse Parties in the spirit of land conservation and self-sustainability in Hawaii. Sunset Ranch Horse Parties are available to all Hawaii residents and visitors and include the following:
1. Exclusive Access to Sunset Meadow: Sunset Meadow is a five acre grassy area at Sunset Ranch that has spectacular ocean and island views of the entire North Shore of Oahu. We provide you with exclusive access to this special venue for up to 50 guests. You can find pictures of Sunset Meadow here;
2. Guided Horseback Rides: Sunset Ranch will stage horseback rides adjacent Sunset Meadow for guided tours around the property. We'll provide up to two horses for your family and friends to interact with, feed and ride at their leisure. Meet our Sunset Ranch horse family here;
3. Food, Snacks and Refreshments: While guests are welcome to bring their own food and beverages; Sunset Ranch offers a full lunch menu for your special Horse Party. Everything from light snacks and water to a full Hawaiian luau menu. Let us know what you'd like and we'll be sure to provide it;
4. Tables, Chairs and Restrooms: Prior to your arrival at Sunset Ranch, our staff will set up tables and chairs for your Horse Party. Set-up is near our signature eucalyptus tree in Sunset Meadow where guests can enjoy beautiful views and gentle breezes in the shade. We also provide an air conditioned restroom trailer for your guests.
6. Land Conservation: As we do with all of our events at Sunset Ranch, our staff will provide guests with some background on how this special property was perpetually protected, and the importance of private conservation easements to the future of land conservation in Hawaii. Please check out our About tab and the link within to learn more about these important programs now.
Sunset Ranch is offering Horse Parties any day of the week, and at various times. Please call us for more detailed information and pricing at (808)638-8333. You can also e-mail us inquiries here. Finally, 'Like' us on Facebook for a chance to win a FREE Sunset Ranch Horse Party and Sunset Ranch memorabilia! Mahalo for your interest and support!
The City and County of Honolulu established its own land conservation fund in 2007 subsequent voter approval of a charter amendment in 2006 (Revised Charter of Honolulu (ROH), Section 9-204(a)). Specifically, Charter Question 3 was voted on and approved by Honolulu residents in November 2006. The City Council then created the Clean Water and Natural Lands Fund ("CWNLF") (Ordinance 07-18) and the Clean Water and Natural Lands Commission ("CWNLFC") (Reso. 07-355 CD1) in 2007. Similar to the State's Legacy Land Conservation Fund ("LLCF"), Honolulu's now established CWNLF has two notable elements that enable the thoughtful and systematic funding of land conservation projects:
A nine member commission, the CWNLFC was established in 2007 and comprises natural, cultural and agricultural resource experts. The commissioners are volunteers appointed by the Honolulu City Council. The CWNLFC reviews projects submitted for funding and advises the City Council on annual project selections. The projects are then subject to the City's annual budget process, and submitted for final approval and funding by the City Council and the Mayor.
(ii) o.5% of Property Taxes
Honolulu voter approval of Charter Question 3 established a dedicated funding source for land conservation projects. Specifically, the charter amendment (Revised Charter of Honolulu (ROH), Section 9-204(a)) requires that 0.5% of all property taxes be set aside for land conservation projects in the City and County of Honolulu. Further, the charter amendment explicitly states that funds be used to "acquire real estate or any interest therein for land conservation within the City and County of Honolulu for the following purposes: (i) protection of watershed lands to preserve water quality and water supply, (ii) preservation of forests, beaches, coastal areas and agricultural lands, (iii) public outdoor recreation and education, including access to beaches and mountains, (iv) preservation of historic or culturally important land areas and sites, (v) protection of significant habitats or ecosystems, including buffer zones, (vi) conservation of land in order to reduce erosion, floods, landslides, and runoff, and (vii) acquisition of public access to public land and open space".
Sunset Ranch was blessed to have been recommended and approved for funding by the CWNLF in 2009. As stated in the LLCF blog, the project was also fortunate to recieve state and federal funding. Federal funding came from the Natural Resource Conservation Service ("NRCS"), a division of the United States Department of Agricultural ("USDA"), and the State of Hawaii funding came from the Legacy Land Conservation Fund ("LLCF"). The USDA contributed 50% to the project; the LLCF, 25%; and the CWNLF, 25%. The importance of financial leverage to land conservation projects cannot be overstated. In the case of Sunset Ranch, the CWNLF committed 25% of what otherwise would've been required without the financial leverage provided by the federal and state programs.
This section was included as part of the LLCF blog, but it is worth repeating: Private conservation easements reduce land conservation project costs to state and local agencies even further. How? With a private conservation easement, the agency is no longer buying a fee simple interest in the fair market value of the land. Instead, the agency is purchasing a conservation easement that legally enforces the landowner to never subdivide. Said differenlty, the development rights of the property are stripped away in exchange for payment. Generally speaking, the value of a conservation easement (development rights) is typically between 40% to 50% of the value of a fee simple interest in the developable land. The obvious result here is that the agency is able to accomplish the objective of land conservation at a fraction of the price. Further, the responsiblilties of ongoing maintenance, management and liability remain with the land owner, and the property remains a revenue source to the county as the landowner is still required to pay property taxes.
Factoring the benefits of financial leverage together with the structure of a private conservation easement, the CWNLF committed approximately 10% of what it otherwise would've had to commit to protect Sunset Ranch. This calculation does not consider the ongoing costs required to manage and maintain the property. This is why it is so important for Hawaii residents to be aware of these programs. Especially during these times when our state and county governments have limited financial resources.
Sunset Ranch remains focused on its mission of helping advance land conservation in Hawaii through: (i) events, (ii) farming, (iii) a nursery, and (iv) horsemanship. Among other things, we believe these efforts will allow us to establish Sunset Ranch as a platform to effectively educate landowners, the local community and visitors on the importance of federal, state and county land conservation programs. Please contact us with any questions regarding the Clean Water and Natural Lands Fund. You can also learn more about the application and award selection process for the CWNLF here.
CWNLF Project Awards:
The Honolulu City Council has approved funding for the following land conservation projects through the Clean Water and Natural Lands Fund: (i) Kukaniloko, (ii) Sunset Ranch, (iii) Honouliuli Preserve, (iv) Kunia Agricultural Research Station, and (v) the Fong Plantation. It is our understanding that, to date, Sunset Ranch remains the first and only project to have received funding from the CWNLF.
As Hawaii residents are well aware, many of the State's natural, cultural and agricultural resources are lost when certain lands are sold and developed. A "Land Conservation Fund" was established by the State of Hawaii in 1973 for the purpose of funding the protection of such lands. Unfortunately, the fund sat dormant until 2005 when the Hawaii State Legislature passed the Legacy Lands Act, and Governor Linda Lingle signed it into law. The Legacy Land Act legislation had two notable elements that enabled the State to thoughtfully and systematically fund land conservation projects in Hawaii:
The Legacy Land Act created a nine-member commission, the Legacy Land Conservation Commission ("LLCC"), composed of natural, cultural and agricultural resource experts representing each county in the State of Hawaii. The LLCC reviews every project submitted for funding and advises the State's Board of Land and Natural Resources on annual project selections. The projects are then subject to additional levels of review before they finally make their way to the Governor for the final decision on project funding.
(ii) 10% of Conveyance Taxes
Perhaps most importantly, the Legacy Land Act created a dedicated funding source for the newly named Legacy Land Conservation Fund ("LLCF") by allocating 10% of all State conveyance taxes (taxes imposed on the transfer of all commercial and residential real estate) to land conservation projects in Hawaii. The law explicitly states that the LLCF be used "for the acquisition of interests of rights in land having value as a resource to the State for the preservation of agricultural lands, among other conservation purposes". Funds can be used to acquire land at fair market value, or for conservation easements, including but not limited to projects with the following characteristics: (i) watershed protection, (ii) parks, (iii) coastal areas, (iv) habitat protection, (v) agricultural sites, (vi) culturally significant sites, and (vii) open space. The LLCF awards grants to counties, local organizations and other agencies. Grant recipients are required to provide matching funds of at least 25% of total project costs.
Sunset Ranch was blessed to have been recommended and approved for funding by the LLCF in 2009. The project was also fortunate to recieve federal and county funding. Federal funding came from the Natural Resource Conservation Service ("NRCS"), a division of the United States Department of Agricultural ("USDA"); City and County of Honolulu funding came from the Clean Water and Natural Lands Fund ("CWNLF")(we will be blogging about the CWNLF in the near future). The USDA contributed 50% to the project; the LLCF, 25%; and the CWNLF, 25%. The importance of financial leverage to land conservation projects cannot be overstated. In the case of Sunset Ranch, the LLCF committed 25% of what otherwise would've been required without the financial leverage provided by the federal and county programs.
Private conservation easements reduce land conservation project costs to state and local agencies even further. How? With a private conservation easement, the agency is no longer buying a fee simple interest in the fair market value of the land. Instead, the agency is purchasing a conservation easement that legally enforces the landowner to never subdivide. Said differenlty, the development rights of the property are stripped away in exchange for payment. Generally speaking, the value of a conservation easement (development rights) is typically between 40% to 50% of the value of a fee simple interest in the land. The obvious result here is that the agency is able to accomplish the objective of land conservation at a fraction of the price. Further, the responsiblilties of ongoing maintenance, management and liability remain with the land owner, and the property remains a revenue source to the county as the landowner is still required to pay property taxes.
Factoring the benefits of financial leverage together with the structure of a private conservation easement, the LLCF committed approximately 10% of what it otherwise would've had to commit to protect Sunset Ranch. This calculation does not consider the ongoing costs required to manage and maintain the property. This is why it is so important for Hawaii residents to be aware of these programs. Especially during these times when our state and county governments have limited financial resources.
Sunset Ranch remains focused on its mission of helping advance land conservation in Hawaii through: (i) events, (ii) farming, (iii) a nursery, and (iv) horsemanship. Among other things, we believe these efforts will allow us to establish Sunset Ranch as a platform to effectively educate landowners, the local community and visitors on the importance of federal, state and county land conservation programs. Please contact us with any questions regarding the Legacy Land Conservation Fund. You can also learn more about the application and award selection process for the LLCF here.
LLCF Project Awards: 2010
In 2010, the Legacy Land Conservation Fund conveyed over $3 million for land conservation projects in Hawaii. These funds were matched with approximately $9.5 million in federal, county and private funds, and used to acquire and protect approximately 752 acres of threatened or unique natural, cultural, recreational, and agricultural resources. The following is a brief summary of the projects protected in 2010, as communicated by the LLCC:
1. County of Hawaii and the Trust for Public Land: $945,000 for the acquisition of approximately 10.61 acres on the Island of Hawaii, coastline lot within Paoo ahupuaa, North Kohala District, to protect over 27 cultural sites from development and maintain the natural landscape and scenic views of the Kohala coastline.
2. Department of Land and Natural Resources, Division of Forestry & Wildlife: $500,000 for the acquisition of a conservation easement over approximately 614 acres on the Island of Molokai to protect critical watershed and prevent erosion damage to near-shore coral reef ecosystems and historic Hawaiian fishponds.
3. Kauai Public Land Trust and the County of Kauai: $800,000 for the acquisition of approximately 0.74 acre on the Island of Kauai, on Hanalei Bay, to be held by the County of Kauai, to enhance and protect the heavily used Black Pot Beach Park area for Hawaii’s residents and visitors.
4. Kona Historical Society: $255,592 for the acquisition of approximately 2.11 acres on the Island of Hawaii, South Kona, to provide a scenic buffer for the historic H.N. Greenwell Store and additional space for preservation of the farming and ranching heritage of Kona.
5. The Trust for Public Land and Oahu Land Trust: $500,000 for the acquisition of a conservation easement over approximately 107.73 acres on the Island of Oahu, ahupua‘a of Kaalaea, in the Koolaupoko District, to be held by the Oahu Land Trust, to protect agricultural production and maintain a portion of the rural character of windward Oahu.
6. Malu Aina Center for Non-Violent Education and Action and the Hawaii Island Land Trust (HILT): $231,788 for the acquisition of approximately 11.14 acres on the Island of Hawaii, Puna District; with a conservation easement to be held by HILT, to maintain agricultural production on lands with kipuka deep soil and abundant rainfall.
7. HILT: $35,000 for the acquisition of conservation easements over approximately 6 acres on the Island of Hawaii, Puna District; to preserve an intact native ohia forest canopy that allows native birds, insects and plants to travel and propagate.
LLCF Project Awards: 2009
In 2009, the Legacy Land Conservation Fund conveyed over $3 million for land conservation projects in Hawaii. The State funds leveraged approximately $6.6 million in matching federal funds and $1.5 million in private and county funds towards the protection of land. The following is a brief summary of the projects funded in 2009 as communicated by the LLCC:
1. State of Hawaii: $982,956.50 for the acquisition of approximately 3,582 acres in Honouliuli Preserve, Waianae Mountain Range, Island of Oahu, for its natural habitat, watershed, and recreational values;
2. State of Hawaii: $450,000 for the acquisition of approximately 65.56 acres in Hamakua, Kailua, Island of Oahu, for its natural habitat, watershed, scenic, and open space values;
3. State of Hawaii: $7,000 for the acquisition of approximately 7 acres in North Kohala, Island of Hawaii, for its cultural, historic, and scenic values;
4. State of Hawaii: $1,250,000 for the acquisition of approximately 17.05 acres in Lapakahi, Kohala, Island of Hawaii, for its coastal, cultural, and natural values; and
5. Maui Coastal Land Trust: $609,425 for the acquisition of an agricultural conservation easement over approximately 27.44 acres, in Pupukea, North Shore, Island of Oahu, to be held by the North Shore Community Land Trust, for its agricultural and open space values.
Kaunala Loop Trail is a hidden gem in the mauka regions of Pupukea-Paumalu on the North Shore of Oahu. If you enjoy a fun, challenging hike, Kaunala Loop Trail is for you. The trail head starts near the very end of Pupukea Road, between Sunset Ranch and Camp Pupukea (Boy Scouts). An interesting fact on Sunset Ranch? Kaunala and other trails in this region are a big reason why the State of Hawaii and the City and County of Honolulu were so excited about protecting Sunset Ranch from development. Why? Sunset Ranch provides a buffer to this region, which includes over 30 miles of trails throughout Waimea Valley and Pupukea Paumalu.
Kaunala Loop Trail is a trail for every outdoor adventurer. It is about a five mile loop that has a little bit of everything, including: panaramic views of the north and northwest side of Oahu, spectacular mountain and valley views, stream crossings, paper tree forests and various ridge climbs. The one recommendation we have if you're going to set out on this adventure is to start your hike in the morning, or in the early afternoon, latest. Why? On occassion hikers start a bit late and they underestimate the time it takes to complete the loop. As a result, night falls and sometimes they require assistance getting back!
One of our many goals at Sunset Ranch is to establish our Nursery as a staging area to work with Hi'ipaka (owner and operator of Waimea Valley) and the State of Hawaii to help maintain invasive species and reintroduce native Hawaiian species in these mauka regions of Oahu. This includes areas in and around Kaunala Loop Trail. We want to create a fun, educational experience for school children, local residents and all visitors to Sunset Ranch. We hope to also develop a short film documentary that shares the history of the area, including the cultural significance of the region.
We hope you get out and explore the Kaunala Loop Trail! As you start your hike, you'll see Sunset Ranch on your right. Where the property ends is where our Nursery will be built. Eventually it will be a great place for visitors to stop in, get educated and continue on their adventure to Kaunala Loop Trail. We can't wait! If you want more information on Kaunala Loop Trail, you can find it here. A hui hou!
We truly believe that the Nursery at Sunset Ranch can be a meaningful tool to advance the causes of land conservation and self-sustainability on the North Shore of Oahu. If you’re interested in our Nursery efforts at Sunset Ranch, or you have any thoughts or feedback, please feel free to contact us through our Contact tab, or call us at (808) 638-8333. Mahalo!
As many are now aware, the North Shore Community Land Trust (NSCLT) played a critical role in the protection of Sunset Ranch and now manages the stewardship fund that will insure its permanent protection. That said, it is also important to recognize the significance of the NSCLT's broader role regarding land conservation on Oahu's North Shore. For example, did you know that the NSCLT played a significant role in the permanent protection of Pupukea-Paumalu (~1129 acres north of Sunset Ranch)? This was a parcel that was otherwise subject to significant commercial and residential development that would have negatively impacted the North Shore in so many different ways. And how about Waimea Valley? Did you know that the NSCLT was instrumental in the protection of Waimea Valley (~1875 acres south of Sunset Ranch)? This culturally significant parcel was also threatened by development. Thanks to the NSCLT and other local organizations, all of this important land on the North Shore has been permanently protected. The bottom line? NSCLT is an incredible organization comprised of exceptional individuals who have nothing but the very best interests of the North Shore community in mind. If you're interested in land conservation on the North Shore of Oahu, the NSCLT is an organization that you need to know about. Here is their stated mission:
The mission of the North Shore Community Land Trust (NSCLT) is to protect, steward, and enhance the natural landscapes, cultural heritage, and rural character of ahupua‘a from Kahuku Point to Ka‘ena.
So how can you learn more about land conservation in Hawaii? And how can you get involved?
1. The NSCLT holds 'talk story' events to get the word out and explain not only their efforts, but various land conservation programs available to the community and to land owners. We highly recommend that you get in touch with the NSCLT and inquire about their next ' talk story' event. Not only will it be informative, it will get you excited about land conservation in Hawaii.
2. The NSCLT is currently developing a thoughtful strategy to prioritize land conservation efforts on the North Shore through their "Greenprinting Project". Given the amount of land that is currently for sale on the North Shore (through Dole, Continental Pacific and others), it is important to understand the significance of this project. The NSCLT has a new fundraising campaign called "7 FOR 7" that will assist with raising money for this effort. Check out the "7 FOR 7" video on our drop down menu on the Event page.
3. For additional information, or if you want to get actively involved with land conservation on the North Shore of Oahu, contact Sunset Ranch at (808)638-8333 or NSCLT at (808)638-0338. We also suggest you visit the NSCLT's web-site at www.northshoreland.org to learn more.
So please get involved with the important cause that is land conservation in Hawaii. While monetary donations to the NSCLT are great (you can now easily donate via Crowdrise here); we also encourage you to donate your time. There are many ways to get involved, and the time to get involved is now. Mahalo!
Please join us on Sunday, November 21st from 2 pm to 6 pm to celebrate the perpetual protection of Sunset Ranch, and one of the first private conservation easements in Hawaii. This event is an Open House! There will be pupus, entertainment and tours around the property. It will be a very special day. We hope to see you there!
1. The objective of land conservation is achieved at a fraction of the cost. How so? The purchasers of the conservation easement (or development rights) are not paying fair market value for the property because they are not taking ownership. Instead, the purchasers are buying the development rights of the land. The value of the development rights is determined by valuing the property WITH the development rights and WITHOUT the development rights. The delta, or the difference between these two values, is what is determined as the value of the developments rights. So when you understand the difference in values being considered (WITH developments versus WITHOUT development rights), you can quickly understand how these federally based conservation programs allow for state and local agencies to achieve their goals of land conservation at a fraction of the cost;
2. Property maintenance and liability remains the responsibility of the land owner. Since the purchasers involved with the transaction are buying the developments rights and not the property, all financial and legal responsibility remains with the land owner. This is an especially critical point for agencies that cannot afford to carry the added financial burden that would otherwise come along with ownership. Of course the absence of any liability exposure associated with the property is also a huge benefit to agencies that are committing funds to these projects; and
3. The property remains a revenue source for the City & County. Again, the land owner continues to hold title to the underlying land and therefore continues to be reponsible for property taxes assessed by the City & County. Alternatively, under a public conservation easement, oftentimes the State or City & County takes ownership of the land and the property tax revenue source is completely lost. This is a significant amount of revenue! When you consider this pont along with the two previous points, the value of private conservation easements becomes quite clear.
Our mission at Sunset Ranch is to establish the property as a platform to help advance land conservation and self-sustainability in Hawaii. In order to effectively do this, we need to start by helping educate the community on the programs that exist and are available to landowners. With regard to land conservation, when you consider the amount of land that is currently for sale by Dole and others on the North Shore or Oahu, it is very clear that the time is now to help advance the cause.