Exploring the Maui Coastal Land Trust: How Public Access to Protected Land Works

Land trusts are a great way to safeguard and maintain land for current and future generations. The Maui Coastal Land Trust is no exception. Established in 2001, the Maui Coastal Land Trust works with government agencies, private landowners, and community groups to protect Maui's shorelines, coastal landscapes, and cultural heritage. The Hawaii Land Trust is responsible for the permanent protection of Hāwea Point, a culturally significant site that was once planned to become a destination golf resort.

The trust understands that Hāwea Point is an essential resource for the ʻohana (families) of this area and, possibly, a resting place for the ʻiwi kūpuna. To guarantee its preservation, the trust negotiates and uses land easements that restrict any development potential and specify what can and cannot be done on a property. The trail at Hāwea Point is privately owned, but access to the water is safeguarded by a conservation easement adopted by the Hawaii Land Trust in 2004. This easement covers approximately two acres of land. The platform land is public, but the land above that part of the trail is private property and is not subject to conservation easement.

The Maui Coastal Land Trust also works with landowners interested in protecting open spaces and conserving land by acquiring land or conservation easements or assisting them in the acquisition of conservation land or easements. For instance, Maui Huliau students created a virtual tour of the Waiheʻe coastal dune and wetland refuge. The Maui Coastal Land Trust is an essential organization that helps protect Maui's shorelines, coastal landscapes, and cultural heritage. By understanding how public access to protected land works, we can all do our part to ensure its preservation.

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