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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Group wants Moanalua Valley parcel

By Rick Daysog
Advertiser Staff Writer

A conservation group is interested in acquiring 3,700 acres in Moanalua Valley from the Estate of Samuel Mills Damon.

The Trust for Public Land said it has had preliminary discussions with the Damon Estate and will likely submit a proposal to acquire the land.

Josh Stanbro, the Trust for Public Land's project manager for the Hawaiian Islands, said it's too early to provide details but said the trust is interested in protecting the conservation property and the endangered species that inhabit the land.

Tim Johns, chief operating officer for the Damon Estate, could not be reached for comment.

The proposed sale comes as the 82-year-old Damon Estate is winding down its operations and liquidating its assets.

The private, for-profit estate, which was founded by Hawai'i banking pioneer Samuel Mills Damon, sold its light industrial properties in Moanalua in December 2003 to Massachusetts-based HRPT Trust Inc. for about $480 million.

The trust's shutdown is being triggered by the November 2004 death of Joan Damon Haig, who was Samuel Mills Damon's last surviving granddaughter.

The Moanalua Valley property includes land on the 'ewa and diamondhead sides of Tripler Army Medical Center and extends to the edge of the Ko'olau Mountains.

The property is the habitat of several endangered plants, insects and rare forest birds. According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, it was the last place where the rare O'ahu creeper and the endangered Hawaiian hoary bat were sighted.

Only a very small portion of the land near Tripler can be developed for residential use.

The Moanalua Valley property does not include the 24-acre Moanalua Gardens, the popular public park that also is being marketed by the Damon Estate.

The Trust for Public Land is a tax-exempt land conservation organization that acquires land for conservation purposes.

Reach Rick Daysog at rdaysog@honoluluadvertiser.com.