Land conservation history was made today as Turtle Bay Resort and a collaboration of entities led by the State of Hawai‘i, completed an agreement to preserve in perpetuity almost 630 acres of open space along O‘ahu’s North Shore coastline. The transaction was recorded in the State’s Bureau of Conveyances as Escrow No. 210-15066667.
“Today marks the formal beginning of a partnership that will forever preserve this precious stretch of land for generations to come,” said Gov. Ige.
Gov. Ige signed into law Senate Bill 284 on June 12, 2015, following the initiative of the Hawai‘i State Senate and the State House of Representatives which created legislation supporting this historic agreement. The details of the agreement were approved by the State Board of Land and Natural Resources on September 25, 2015.
The property protected by this conservation agreement covers more than four miles from Kahuku Point to Kawela Bay and represents nearly four percent of O‘ahu’s coastline.
The agreement between Turtle Bay Resort, the State of Hawai‘i, City and County of Honolulu, U.S. Army and The Trust for Public Land is supported by a host of community groups and stakeholders, including the North Shore Community Land Trust.
The land acquired by the City and County of Honolulu under its Clean Water Act grant funding is located in Kawela Bay near a 4.9 acre site that will be dedicated as a public park for recreational use by residents and visitors.
“Today is a victory for everyone who believes in private public partnerships and the ability to find solutions that fairly and wisely balance the interests of landowners, the environment and the community. We are very grateful to Gov. Ige for his leadership and partnership, and are thankful for all the support from our state and county lawmakers and community residents. This settles decades of disagreement on the future of Turtle Bay Resort. Everyone wins with this conservation agreement,” said Drew Stotesbury, chief executive officer for Turtle Bay Resort.
The U.S. Army, in partnership with The Trust for Public Land, contributed $2.5 million toward the conservation agreement via the Army Compatible Use Buffer Program (ACUB), which preserves land around military installations. The Army’s Kahuku Training Area is its largest on O‘ahu and is used by all of the military services for ground and aviation training.
At the grassroots level, the North Shore Community Land Trust (NSCLT) was vital in providing Turtle Bay Resort officials with both perspective and guidance from the Ko‘olauloa and North Shore communities on the need to reach an agreement acceptable to residents’ interests.
Scott McCormack, vice president, Turtle Bay Resort noted that the resort’s remaining development rights – 725 units, or 20 percent of what was allowable before this agreement – represent an opportunity to create much needed employment for area residents, while also conserving massive amounts of open space. Moreover, gaining approval of this residual development plan from key stakeholder groups was key to the agreement.
Reactions to the closing
U.S. Senator Brian Schatz
“This is a victory for the community that has fought for so long and so hard to ‘keep the country country’. More than 600 acres of conservation land will be preserved in perpetuity. This historic agreement is the result of a collaborative effort by many to reach a resolution on the future of one of the last undeveloped coastlines on Oahu. I thank Governor Ige, Mayor Caldwell, other State, City and County officials, and conservation leaders who came together to protect the natural beauty of Kawela Bay. This agreement ensures the availability of healthy coastline that is home to monk seals, sea turtles, whales and other fish and wildlife unique to our state. It also provides community access to the area so that it can be enjoyed for generations.”
U.S. Senator Mazie K. Hirono, member of the Senate Armed Services and Energy and Natural Resources Committees
“The preservation of nearly five miles of coastline along O‘ahu’s north shore ensures that this open space will be enjoyed by future generations. Today’s agreement reinforces the value of public-private partnerships coming together to find meaningful solutions that benefit the community. I appreciate the work of the Ige administration, City and County of Honolulu, Turtle Bay Resort, the North Shore community, and the U.S. Army through its program to protect habitat and buffer training.”
U.S. Representative Tulsi Gabbard
“This collaboration between state and local government, the North Shore community, and private businesses is what made this historic agreement possible. The preservation of one of our most iconic and precious resources – O‘ahu’s North Shore coastline – is something that current and future generations will benefit from.”
U.S. Representative K. Mark Takai
“I would like to applaud Governor Ige, Turtle Bay Resort, the City and County of Honolulu, US Army, The Trust for Public Land and the North Shore Community Land Trust for their work on securing this public-private venture that is good for the community, good for conservation efforts, and good for the U.S. Army. This is a win-win deal that allows the Hawaii tourism industry to thrive, allows the Army to continue much-needed training, all while protecting and preserving the natural beauty for those that live in the community and that attracts many to vacation in the Turtle Bay area.”
Gil Riviere, Senator, District 23, O‘ahu’s North and Windward Shores
“The people of Hawai‘i and our visitors will forever enjoy the beautiful Kawela Bay and miles of pristine coastline because of this landmark agreement. The Senate is pleased to have helped make this land conservation plan a reality under the leadership of Governor Ige and with the cooperation of so many diverse parties.”
Joseph M. Souki, Speaker, State House of Representatives
“This is a day to celebrate. Kawela Bay is now preserved for future generations thanks to the efforts of the many who recognized its importance to the community.”
Kirk Caldwell, Mayor, City and County of Honolulu
“This is the successful result of an effort that has spanned decades, with the kokua of government, the private sector, and community organizations. The fact that over 600 pristine acres are being preserved forever is a testament to the North Shore community and a tremendous gift to future generations of residents and visitors. This historic agreement is proof that great things are possible when everyone works together with aloha.”
Ernest Martin, chair, Honolulu City Council
“The Honolulu City Council, which committed the first investment in this endeavor through a $5 million budget appropriation in 2014, is very pleased with the result. The recordation today concludes a long and complex process. The real winners in this are the people, who can now rest assured that this land will be forever preserved and protected in its near pristine form. Future generations will be able to experience this unique area in the same manner as we are able to today. The City looks forward to its role in this historic partnership and develop the planned park and recreational area for all to enjoy.”
Col. Richard Fromm, commander, U.S. Army Garrison-Hawai‘i
“For the Army, these kinds of partnerships are a necessity. We have to preserve our soldiers’ ability to train, and ACUB projects allow us to do that in a way that benefits the community and the military.”
Gregg Takara, chair of The Trust for Public Land’s Hawaiian Islands Advisory Board
“Conserving this land would not have been possible without the North Shore community’s decades long commitment, the strong support of our congressional delegation for buffer funding, and the U.S. Army Garrison Hawai‘i’s coordination with public agencies and community organizations on its buffer program. Mahalo to the governor, the legislature, the mayor, the city council, the landowner Turtle Bay Resort and the thousands of people who made phone calls, sent emails and testified in support of saving this land for our children and generations to come.”
Doug Cole, executive director, North Shore Community Land Trust
“The community is forever grateful to everyone who helped us preserve one of the island’s only remaining undeveloped shorelines. This is a wonderful example of how much can be accomplished when government, community and the private sector all work together. Thanks to this excellent collaboration, future generations will enjoy this special place forever!”