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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Tuesday, April 17, 2001

House urges national park on Maui coast

By Timothy Hurley
Advertiser Maui County Bureau

A resolution urging the federal government to create a national park along six miles of rugged Maui coastline from La Perouse Bay to Kanaloa Point has won approval from the state House of Representatives.

The matter, sent to the Senate late last week, was assigned yesterday to the Water, Land, Energy and Environment Committee.

"It's a place under siege,'' said Rep. Hermina Morita, D-12th, (East Maui-North Kaua'i), who introduced the resolution. "It needs some kind of management, and the state doesn't have the resources to do it.''

The Maui County Council and the county Cultural Resources Commission already approved similar resolutions, and the effort has been endorsed by U.S. Rep. Patsy Mink, who asked the Department of Interior to study the proposal's feasibility.

There was no opposition to the resolution in the state House, partly because of the diverse interests supporting the proposal, including the Maui Hotel Association and the Sierra Club, Morita said.

The region south of Makena was once home to a thriving Native Hawaiian population. Now, the area is dotted by archaeological sites, including remnants of dwellings, heiau, fishing shrines, platforms, enclosures, shelters, walls, graves and canoe hale that date back to about A.D. 1100.

The region, much of it rugged lava lands owned by the state, is also home to unique native plants and animals, some of which are endangered, and the coast features pristine waters frequented by dolphins and a variety of other marine life.

But while the area was once considered remote, in recent years it has become a popular destination for snorkelers, hikers, campers and off-road vehicles.

Mary Evanson, president of the Friends of Haleakala National Park, has been leading a community drive to create the new preserve. She said support from the Legislature is important to show the National Park Service the state is willing to turn over control of its land to the stewardship of the federal government.

"They should at least do a feasibility study,'' Evanson said of the park service. "It really deserves it.''

Hawai'i already has two full-fledged national parks: Haleakala on Maui and Hawai'i Volcanoes on the Big Island. Five other sites are administered by the National Park Service: Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park, Pu'uhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park and Pu'ukohola Heiau National Historic Site, all on the Big Island; Kalaupapa National Historical Park on Moloka'i; and the USS Arizona Memorial on O'ahu.