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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, July 25, 2002

Windward side plans greenbelt of hiking trails

By Eloise Aguiar
Advertiser Windward O'ahu Writer

KANE'OHE — A proposed trail system from the Pali Golf Course to Kualoa Ranch will link the mountain to the sea and provide public access to cultural, historical, educational and recreational sites.

Eventually, trail system proponents hope that the route will extend from Waimanalo to Kahuku, connecting communities along the Windward coast.

The goal is to preserve open space for public use and to create sustainable community-based economic development while maintaining a balance among the competing needs of the community, said Shannon Wood, publisher of the Ko'olau News, a regional e-paper.

"We want to give the people who live here 'ownership' by getting access to those areas in appropriate ways," she said. "If everything is blocked, who cares what happens? But if you know you can go hiking there, then you're going to be very careful about what kind of development is coming."

The city has set aside $50,000 from the Kane'ohe and Kahaluu vision team funds to plan the Ko'olau Greenbelt & Heritage Trails System from the Pali to Kualoa, all within the Kane'ohe postal zip code 96744. A consultant should be hired by the end of the year and then vision project meetings will be scheduled, Wood said. The public is welcome to participate.

The nonprofit Windward Ahupua'a Alliance was recently formed to oversee the trail planning and to provide support for groups that want to develop pieces of the system, including raising funds to extend the system beyond Kane'ohe, said Wood, also the interim president and development director of the alliance.

Wood said the alliance will also seek to restore and protect public access to mauka lands on the windward side of the Ko'olau range.

Debbi Glanstein, an alliance interim board member, said a trail will create continuity throughout the Windward communities. "A linkage of the whole Windward side would allow us to have our own identity," said the Kailua Neighborhood Board member. "We have lots of different plans and ideas and this links everything together and pushes us into the future."

The alliance hopes to eventually establish a system that will have two basic trails parallel to the Ko'olaus. One would be close to the mountain for hikers, non-motorized bicycles and, where possible, horseback riding. Places such as Ho'omaluhia Botanical Garden, Haiku Valley's Stairway to Heaven, the Byodo-In Temple and Waiahole and Waikane valleys would be linked to Kualoa Beach Park.

The other trail, essentially the highway along the ocean, would connect cultural sites, community museums, dining, recreation and art galleries. Shorter trials would lead there from the mountain route, bringing hikers to museums, galleries and local restaurants.

Elizabeth Martinez, co-owner of Olomana Gardens in Waimanalo, called the trail system a gift for future generations. But she cautioned planners about being sensitive to Hawaiian cultural sites and sacred places. Martinez, a member of the alliance's interim board, called for planning "to make it possible to enjoy the outdoors without trampling on other people's cultural heritage."

Wood said the alliance needs people from Waimanalo, North Kane'ohe Bay and Ko'olauloa to serve on the interim board, which will draft by-laws, choose a name, sponsor events and select officers. For more information, call Wood at 263-6001 or attend the next vision group meeting at 6:30 p.m. Sept. 17 at the Kaneohe Community & Senior Center, 45-613 Puohala St.

Reach Eloise Aguiar at eaguiar@honoluluadvertiser.com or 234-5266.