A signing ceremony for a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) among the County of Hawaii, the State of Hawaii, and the National Park Service took place on Sunday, February 21, 2010. Spencer Beach Park at `Ohai`ula in Kawaihae, South Kohala, Hawaii Island offered the beautiful backdrop for the celebration. The ceremony opened with Hawaiian chants and hula by students led by Nicole Anakalea. (Nicole and one student who performed attended the 2009 National Trails conference in Missoula, MT). Speakers from each agency shared their thoughts about this new endeavor with a crowd of about 120 community members, park partners, and park staff. Also attending the event were State of Hawaii Lieutenant Governor James R. “Duke” Aiona, Jr., State of Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources Chairperson Laura Thielen, County of Hawaii Deputy Managing Director Wally Lau, and National Park Service Pacific West Region Deputy Regional Director Patricia Neubacher. They joined Ala Kahakai National Historic Trail Superintendent Aric Arakaki at the table to add their signatures to the document.
The MOU brings together three levels of government in partnership to focus on establishing the Ala Kahakai National Historic Trail and its many resources. The primary focus of the MOU is the implementation of the Comprehensive Management Plan (CMP) of the Ala Kahakai National Historic Trail. The CMP, released in May 2009, establishes management guidelines needed to fulfill the preservation and public use goals which were the result of a consolidation of community input gathered at island wide meetings.
The Ala Kahakai National Historic Trail was designated by the U.S. Congress in 2000 and is administered by the National Park Service. It is one of the newest additions to the National Trails System, however it is the most ancient of any designated historic trail in the U.S. Extending from Upolu Point on the northern tip of Hawaii island down the Kona coast and around South Point to the eastern boundary of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, the designated 175-mile trail corridor was set up for the preservation, protection and interpretation of traditional Native Hawaiian culture and natural resources. The Ala Kahakai passes through four National Parks and several State and County Parks. Nearly half of the trail traverses private lands.
This shoreline trail, full of cultural and historical significance, is unique in that it is a model of community management and involvement, focusing on the preservation of Hawaiian culture and heritage as well as promoting environmental stewardship and education. It is more than a recreational trail – it is a path that joins the past to the present and the future.
Currently, the trail has partnered with E Mau Na Ala Hele and Ala Kahakai Trail Association and 11 other community groups. The accomplishment of partnerships extend to government cooperation between National Park Service, State of Hawaii, and the County of Hawaii. These established and new partnerships will continue to unite communities along the trail corridor around the common goals to preserve the culture and environment of Hawaii via a system of trails.
Article submitted by Ida Hanohano, NPS.