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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Kaho'olawe plan calls for money, volunteers

By Timothy Hurley
Advertiser Maui County Bureau

Three weeks after saying goodbye to the Navy and its cleanup contractor, the Kaho'olawe Island Reserve Commission is ready to set directions for managing the island over the next five years.

A plan, expected to be approved tomorrow, includes "strategic priorities" that call for increased fund-raising to support the island's trust fund, creation of an information center at Kihei, Maui, upgrading public education about the former Target Isle, and developing a procedure to transfer the reserve to a future Native Hawaiian sovereign entity.

The plan will be considered at the commission's 1 p.m. meeting tomorrow in Conference Room 436 of the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism at the State Capitol. The commission will hold a workshop on the same topic at 10:30 a.m., but that meeting will be private.

The plan is called Strategic Plan: 2004-2008 (Hanau hou he 'ula o Kaho'olawe — Rebirth of a Sacred Island). It has undergone some modification following last month's statewide series of public hearings. For example, the document does not include establishing an on-island manager as a goal.

Stanton Enomoto, the commission's acting executive director, explained that many testified that the cost of maintaining such a manager could be better used to boost volunteer efforts. Enomoto said the on-island manager position probably will be added to the next five-year plan.

The final plan also does not aim "to develop prototype cultural orientation and protocols that reinforce and re-establish the sacred geography of the island." Testifiers pointed out that those efforts have been developed by the Protect Kaho'olawe 'Ohana, Enomoto said.

Still included in the plan are goals to increase the commission's $30 million trust fund by raising money through partnerships and grants; expand the scope of environmental and cultural restoration and develop an extensive volunteer base to help out; and develop "an enforcement network" to protect the island and its waters from illegal, inappropriate and unsafe uses.

Enomoto said the plan will offer direction to the staff to fill the commission's goal of providing meaningful, safe use of Kaho'olawe for cultural practices and restoring the island and its waters.

Meanwhile, the island has returned to the quiet that prevailed just before the start of the six-year, $400 million cleanup of unexploded ordnance.

"It's a step back in time," Enomoto said. "That's what makes Kaho'olawe so special — that quiet. It's a sense of solitude and spiritual connection to the land and ocean."

During much of the clearance project, some 400 employees traveled to the island daily to remove unexploded ordnance left by 49 years of military target practice.

The agency now is in the process of installing signs at access points across the island warning potential visitors of the risks of unexploded ordnance. Staff members also are taking inventory of the equipment left behind by the Navy for the commission's use.

This summer and fall, the commission plans to repair and stabilize archaeological sites threatened by ongoing erosion, Enomoto said.

Reach Timothy Hurley at thurley@honoluluadvertiser.com or (808) 244-4880.