STATEMENT OF JOHN REYNOLDS, REGIONAL DIRECTOR, PACIFIC WEST REGION, NATIONAL PARK SERVICE, DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR, BEFORE THE SUBCOMMITTEE ON NATIONAL PARKS, OF THE SENATE COMMITTEE ON ENERGY AND NATURAL RESOURCES, CONCERNING S. 1057, A BILL TO AUTHORIZE THE ADDITION OF LANDS TO PU’UHONUA O HONAUNAU NATIONAL HISTORICAL PARK IN THE STATE OF HAWAII.

July 26, 2001

 


Mr. Chairman, thank you for the opportunity to present the Department of the Interior’s views on S. 1057, a bill to adjust the boundaries of Pu’uhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park.

The Department supports S. 1057. This legislation will adjust the authorized boundary of Pu’uhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park to include the remainder of Ki’ilae Village within the park. The proposed expansion is located on lands immediately adjacent to, but outside the southern park boundary, and would add 238 acres to the 182 acres already within the park. The addition of another 165 acres would also be authorized if the lands are ever acquired.

Ki’ilae is an ancient Hawaiian settlement dating back to the late 12th or early 13th centuries. The settlement remained active until the 1930’s, making it one of the last traditional Hawaiian villages to be abandoned. The proposed boundary adjustment consists of adding lands containing the archeological remains of this Hawaiian village. Lands to be added to the park contain more than 800 archeological sites, structures and features. These include at least 25 caves and 10 heiau (Hawaiian temples), more than 20 rock platforms, 26 rock wall enclosures, over 40 burial features, residential compounds, a holua (recreational slide used by Hawaiian royalty), canoe landing sites, a water well, numerous rock walls and a wide range of agricultural features.

The proposed expansion dates back to a 1957 archeological survey conducted by the Bishop Museum. This survey found that the greater part of the ancient village of Ki’ilae, as well as other significant Hawaiian archeological resources, were left outside of the park boundaries established by Congress in 1955. Pu’uhonua o Honaunau’s 1972 Master Plan identifies Ki’ilae Village as one of the park’s major resources and the master plan graphics show village remains extending well beyond the existing park boundaries. In 1992, a boundary study was prepared for the park. Both the master plan and the boundary study call for adding the "balance of Ki’ilae Village" to the park. Up until last year, the property was unavailable because its ownership was not clear. The three heirs to the property have now settled the ownership issue, thereby clearing the way for the Park Service to acquire the land. S. 1057 would allow the boundary of the park to be expanded to protect this significant cultural resource.

In light of the President's commitment to reducing the backlog of deferred maintenance needs within the National Park System before incurring additional financial burdens, it is encouraging to note that the present owner may consider donating one portion of the property to the National Park Service, while the other portion would be available for purchase and has been appraised at $4.6 million. Funds to purchase this property would be subject to NPS servicewide priorities and the availability of appropriations. Since no development is contemplated within the boundary adjustment area, no line item construction or significant development costs are anticipated, although there would be some one-time costs after acquisition to conduct an inventory of archeological resources and remove non-native vegetation. We expect that the park would seek to increase its base-operating budget in the range of $250,000 in order to hire two additional resource management employees, as well as two employees to provide services such as interpretation and law enforcement. This increase would have to compete against other demands for limited operational funds.

There is strong local support to protect and include these resources within the Pu’uhonua o Honaunua National Historical Park. This reflects the high level of cooperation and strong commitment of local communities and governments toward the park. This kind of local support for land acquisition projects is an important part of the Department's support for this legislation.

That concludes my testimony. I would be glad to answer any questions that you or the members of the subcommittee may have.