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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Sunday, September 8, 2002

Group 'gravely concerned' about Waimea Valley plants

By Eloise Aguiar
Advertiser Staff Writer

WAIMEA — A national plant conservation organization has urged the city to select a management group such as the Audubon Society to take charge of Waimea Valley Adventure Park.

The Center for Plant Conservation, based in St. Louis, said the Audubon Society can provide expertise in the conservation of rare biological resources at the park.

The city is in the process of selecting a manager and is expected to make a decision by the end of the year, said Malcolm Tom, deputy managing director.

Two entities have submitted proposals, but Tom said he could not reveal their names.

"We've been meeting with the proposers, reviewing them and getting clarification about their proposals," Tom said. "We also are answering their questions."

The Center for Plant Conservation, which maintains the National Collection of Endangered Plants, said the Waimea Arboretum and Botanical Garden has an invaluable collection of rare plant species and species on the Endangered Species List.

"Under the current arrangement, the rare plants are not being adequately cared for," said Kathryn Kennedy, executive director and president of the center. "We cannot overstate the value of these irreplaceable collections. We are gravely concerned."

But Tom said the plants are doing well and has a crew of nine gardeners to care for them. Plus the city has hired David Orr as chief propagator and two part-time propagators to ensure the continued work in the arboretum.

The city took possession of the 1,875-acre property in February in a condemnation process, depositing $5.1 million in escrow.

The operation of the park continues under the old manager, Waimea Management LLC, on a month-to-month lease while the city finds a permanent manager.

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