The State of Hawaii and
the Ulupalakua Ranch are the major property owners, both within the study
area and on surrounding lands. The offshore waters come under the jurisdiction
of the State of Hawaii. The state has designated the coastal portions of their
lands as Beach Reserve. Within the study area, the State owns approximately
1,600 acres of land and the Ulupalakua Ranch the rest, except for a couple
of small parcels scattered along the coast. The upper portions of the state-owned
lands within the study area are presently being leased to the Ulupalakua Ranch.
The U.S. Coast Guard owns a two-acre shoreline parcel to house the Hanamaioa
Light. All of the State of Hawaii lands within the study are ceded lands.
There are no known Land Commission Awards within the study area.
Study area lands have been classified by the State Land Use Commission as Conservation and placed in the Resource Subzone. In general, land uses within the Conservation District are limited to plant and wildlife habitat, historic and archeological areas, beach reserves, and lands necessary for the protection of watersheds and water sources, and for the prevention of floods and soil erosion. Any other kinds of uses within the Conservation District require the issuance of a use permit by the Board of the Department of Land and Natural Resources. As noted, the Hawaii Army National Guard has been granted a Conservation District Use Permit. Land uses within the Conservation District are governed solely by the State of Hawaii.
The adjacent Kanaio Training Area is also Conservation District, but has been placed in the General Subzone. Adjacent to the western end of the study area is the Ahihi-Kinau NAR, established in 1973 by State Executive Order, and several parcels of privately-owned lands. Prohibited activities within the NAR include those that adversely affect plant and animal life, and actions that impact any geological feature or substance or any historic or prehistoric remains. The lands and offshore waters within the NAR are in the Protective Subzone of the Conservation District. Lands to the north and east of the study area are within the Agricultural District and remain in open space, with cattle grazing as the primary use.
North of the Ahihi-Kinau NAR is the recently acquired Makena State Park. To the north of Makena, urban development begins in the upscale, master-planned resort community of Wailea with its world-class hotels, homes and golf courses. Beyond Wailea is the still expanding coastal resort-residential community of Kihei, with its numerous condominiums, shopping malls and residential neighborhoods.
In October 2001, the
Maui County Council's Land Use Committee approved a rezoning application that
calls for up to 1,100 new residences and a new hotel complex in Makena. The
proposed developments are controversial. Local residents have stated the new
residential development would add to the area's already existing traffic problems
and put additional strain on water resources.
What in the late 1970s and early 1980s was a quiet, rural area with miles of uncrowded beaches, a few small hotels and other low-key visitor accommodations, is now a ten-mile stretch of urban development consisting of condominiums, mini-malls, high-end resorts, golf courses and residential subdivisions. In addition, major new light industries are expected to be located at the Maui Research and Technology Park in Kihei east of the Piilani Highway. The park is currently at about a ten percent build-out. Plans are also underway by the State Department of Transportation to link the Kihei-Makena area with Upcountry Maui by constructing a new two-lane highway.
As the growth of southwest
Maui spread from Kihei south to Wailea and then down to Makena, the study
area became the destination for an ever-increasing number of visitors. These
visitors come seeking outdoor recreation experiences. Visitors are comprised
both of island residents and off-island tourists. From June through December
2001, the Friends of Keone`o`io, a local organization active in promoting
stewardship for study area resources, conducted a survey of visitors to the
coast and waters of La Perouse Bay. Survey results, based on daily visitor
counts taken over the six-month period, projected the average number of monthly
visitors at Keone`o`io to be 13,719, or more than eight percent of the total
monthly visitation to Maui. The daily counts taken in July showed as many
as 805 visitors and as many as 339 vehicles entering Keone`o`io.
The study area contains examples of the following resource types, as defined by the Natural History and History and Prehistory thematic frameworks.
Natural History Theme: Works of Volcanism
or Prehistory Theme: Cultural Development, Indigenous Populations
Subtheme: the Earliest Inhabitants
Facet: the Early Peopling of the Pacific
Subtheme: Post Archaic and Pre-Contact Developments
Facet: Late Prehistoric Adaptions in the Western, Central and Eastern Pacific
Subtheme: Prehistoric Archeology
Facets: Prehistoric Architecture/Shelter/Housing, Prehistoric Technology, Prehistoric Settlements and Settlement Patterns, Prehistoric Agriculture, and Prehistoric Cultural Change
Subtheme: Ethnohistory of Indigenous Populations
Facet: Native Cultural Adaptations at Contact: Native Adaptations to Polynesian Environments
Over a span of nearly a century, there have been several archeological investigations conducted in the study area: Stokes' 1916 survey for the Bishop Museum; the 1928 and 1929 survey by Walker for the Bishop Museum; as part of an island-wide survey of Maui by the Bishop Museum in 1973; a supplementary survey in 1987 by the State of Hawaii; and as part of the Hawaii Army National Guard's 1997 survey of the Kanaio Training Area. Altogether, about 34 individual archeological sites, containing about 1,100 known features, have been recorded within the study area. Nearly all of the recorded sites and features are comprised exclusively of rock construction and occur in complexes of at least eight and as many as 150 features.
Archeologists believe that nearly half of the known archeological features within the study area are Hawaiian burial platforms. These graves are considered sacred by Hawaiians. About seven of the archeological sites are believed to be the remains of small traditional Hawaiian villages--groupings of houses and related features. Features known within the study area include house enclosures, heiau, platforms, shelters, windbreaks, walls, canoe hale and fishing shrines. Some of these sites appear to have been occupied into the Post-Contact (after 1778) Period.
A unique feature within
the study area is a section of flat pahoehoe bedrock on which more than 100
small shallow depressions have been formed. Archeologists believe the depressions
were created over time by the circular grinding motions employed by the ancient
Hawaiians in their manufacturing of adze blades. Archeologists believe this
site may be the largest adze-sharpening area in the Hawaiian Islands.
The greatest concentration of the known archeological sites is in the coastal area, although additional sites have been found mauka of the historic Hoapili Trail. Based on the known distribution of sites, archeologists generally believe the coastal zone (defined as the area below 300 feet) to be the area of greatest archeological sensitivity.
In the 1960s, two sites within the study area were excavated by archeologists. Although the radiocarbon dating results on one of the excavations turned out to be questionable, archeologists believe it very likely that occupation of the study area by Hawaiians goes back to about 1,000 years.
The State of Hawaii has
listed on their Register of Historic Places as the Keone`o`io Archeological
District the numerous sites and features found in four separate clusters or
complexes along the La Perouse Bay shoreline, along with nearby portions of
the Hoapili Trail. Other important archeological sites that have been identified
within the study area are three separate site complexes to the east: Keawanaku,
Wawaloa, and Kanaio Waiailio
(See APPENDIX for a more detailed description of the archeological sites found within the study area).
In 1992, as part of a
biological survey conducted by The Nature Conservancy (TNC) Hawaii Heritage
Program, a cave system was discovered within the study area containing what
were described as "very significant cultural remains and paleontological
Professional archeologists believe that additional more intensive surveys would identify as many as twice the known number of features within the study area.
In addition to the damage
recorded on some of the archeological features within the Keone`o`io Archeological
District, there is additional documented damage to archeological sites located
near Kanaloa and at Wawaloa. This damage appears to be from vandalism, bulldozing,
and four-wheel drive vehicles.
Geology and Soils. The study area is composed almost entirely of mid- to late-Pleistocene a`a lava flows originating mostly from the bases of Pu`u Pimoe and Pohakea cinder cones. Adjacent to and south of Pu`u Pimoe is the origin of a large flow of a`a lava that fans out to the south toward the coast. This flow covers most of the study area. The a`a lava flows covering the study area are recent and therefore still rough and unweathered. Within the a`a flows, there are small areas of older, more weathered pahoehoe flows. These flows are covered with a thin layer of soil and ash materials. A more recent a`a flow located above La Perouse Bay is believed to have come from cinder cones on the southwest slope of Haleakala. This flow is estimated to have occurred in the 1790s, making it the most recent on Maui, and consists of numerous large olivine and augite crystals. It is outside of the study area.
Biologists believe this
cave supports a unique subterranean biotic community. The rare cave isopod,
Hawaiioscia parvituberculata, has been found within a coastal region
similar to the one in which the study area cave occurs. Survey biologists
believe it likely that, given this cave's humid environment, further study
would reveal populations of the isopod, along with the spider, Meioneta
gagnei, and the pseudoscorpion, Tyrannochthonuis stonei, and possibly
other cave species, as yet undiscovered. The cave's existence is attributed
to the dry leeward climate which has kept this and other lava tubes in the
area from being filled by erosional processes. Biologists believe cave resources
within the study area have only begun to be inventoried.
Within the study area, six different natural communities were described during Hawaii Heritage Program survey. Four of the communities contained native plants. The native communities were described as the `A`ali`i Lowland Dry Shrubland, the Mixed Coastal Shrubland/Herbland composed of Coastal Dry Grassland and Naupaka Coastal Dry Shrubland, the `Akoko Coastal Dry Shrubland and the Low Salinity Anchialine Pool. The two communities containing alien plants were described as the Alien Shrubland/ Grassland/Herbland and the Kiawe Forest/Savannah.
The `A`ali`i Lowland
Dry Shrubland community is found in two locations within the study area--at
the western and eastern ends of the ahupua`a of Kanaio. This community occurs
on both `a`a and cinder substrates, mostly adjacent to koa haole (Leucaena
leucocephala) or barren lava. Although this native community is not considered
rare in Hawaii, some examples are known to contain rare plants. Native components
found in this community include `ilima (Sida fallax), `uhaloa (Waltheria
indica), naio (Myoporum sandwichense), naupapka, (Scaevola sericea),
alena (Boerhavia repens), and koali `awa (Ipomoea indica).
The study area contains a single site of the `Akoko Coastal Dry Shrubland community at the western edge of the ahupua`a of Kanaio. This extremely rare coastal shrubland dominated by `akoko (Chamaesyce celastroides), a taxon endemic to the Hawaiian islands, is known to occur only at one other location--Polihale State Park on the island of Kauai. The site identified in the study area is located near the coast on a`a lava. The `akoko shrubland community was about three feet high and contained other native species such as naio,`ilima, `uhaloa, alena, koali`awa, `aki`aki (Sporobolus virginicus), kauna`oa pehu (Cassytha filiformis).
The study area's coastal strand vegetation is poorly developed because the coastline here consists largely of rocky cliffs, with little or no gently sloping strand habitat. The existing strand vegetation consists primarily of Fimbristylis cymosa, with occasional patches of Chamaesyce celastroides and Jacquemontia ovalifilia. Non-natives such as kiawe (Prosopis pallida) and koa haole (Leucaena leucocephala) also grow along the coast.
Populations of the native shrub, mai`apilo (Capparis sandwichiana), were reported in the 1992 Hawaii Heritage Program survey as common along the coast from between La Perouse Bay and Kanaio Beach. Although this lowland shrub has a large population within the study area, it is rare on the other main Hawaiian islands. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has retained this species on its active list of candidates for endangered species listing. The continuing use of four-wheel drive vehicles in the study area is a potential threat to this rare native shrub.
A very small population of `ihi (Portulaca villosa), a rare native herb, was identified during the 1992 survey near the coast at the eastern end of the study area. According to botanists, the `ihi is found in scattered locations from Kanaio Beach eastward to Kaupo. The `ihi is presently a candidate endangered plant species.
concinnum), a fern endemic to Hawaii, was observed during the 1992 survey
at two locations within the study area. Although locally common and usually
found in coastal environments in dry habitats on all the major islands, only
a few of these plants were identified within the study area. This perennial
is generally visible only during the wet winter season when the root stock
produces leaves. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is preparing to propose
the pololei for listing as threatened or endangered. No federally listed plant
species are known to exist within the study area.
The non-native black rat (Rattus rattus rattus) and the non-native house mouse (Mus domesticus) are present and seasonally abundant in the study area. Another non-native, the mongoose (Herpestes auropunctatus auropunctatus) is also found in the study area.
Both the Brown (Francolinus
pondicerianus) and Black (Francolinus francolinus) francolins are
found in the study area, along with the common myna (Acridotheres tristis),
the zebra dove (Geopelia striata), rock dove (Columba livia),
spotted dove (Streptopelia chinensis), northern cardinal (Cardinalis
cardinalis) and the house sparrow (Passer domesticus). All are
non-native bird species. Except for the francolins, all of these bird species
are common in urban areas on the major Hawaiian islands. The francolins were
originally introduced into the general area as game birds.
The green sea turtle or honu (Chelonia mydas), a listed species, is likely found in the study area's offshore waters. In 1998, a juvenile Hawaiian monk seal (Monachus schauinslandi) was observed within the nearby Ahihi-Kinau NAR in the spash zone around Kalaeloa Point. The green sea turtle is listed as a threatened species and the Hawaiian monk seal is listed as an endangered species.
Reconnaissance surveys of the coastal and offshore portions of the study area were carried out by a NPS/DLNR (Division of Aquatic Resources)/University of Hawaii team in February, April and May 2002 (See APPENDIX for a detailed description of the coral and other marine resources found within the study area). The survey team found the area above and below the tideline to be dominated by basalt bedrock. This bedrock is exposed and exhibits signs of scour, but has been colonized by coral. The less exposed areas west of headlands and points contain the more developed coral reef communities. A large pinnacle occurs in the middle of La Perouse Bay and has a well developed reef community associated with it.
With regard to coral reefs, the 2002 surveys identified a total of 38 species of coral, including soft coral, precious coral and zoanthids in the study area. A total of 31 stony, reef-building corals were recorded throughout the study area. Of these, two species identified in the field, Montipora sp.and Porites sp., required further verification. A total of 22 species, a very high species richness for anywhere in the main Hawaiian Islands, were surveyed at one site in shallow water within La Perouse Bay. In general, there were was a much higher diversity of species in protected areas such as the inner parts of La Perouse Bay and west of Kanaloa Point. West of Kanaloa Point, a total of 16 species of coral, including 13 reef-building and precious species, were surveyed. This coral community was dominated by five species of Porites. There were also many P. meandrina recruits. Several places in La Perouse Bay, including the pinnacle, along with the area just west of Kanaloa Point had extremely high coral cover--approximately 60 to 80 percent.
The most commonly encountered corals across all sites were M. capitata, P. meandrina, P. compressa and P. lobata. Branching colonies of P. meandrina and encrusting P. lobata were dominant along exposed coastlines. In more protected areas there was a broader range of Porites spp., including P. evermanni, P. compressa and P. bringhami, which were present in massive forms. There was a high diversity of non-dominating species of Montipora spp., including M. capitata, M. flabellata and M. patula in wave-exposed areas, and Pavona duerdeni and P. varians in wave-protected areas.
Throughout the study area there was a high percent cover of Pocillopora meandrina and encrusting colonies of P. lobata in wave exposed areas. In protected areas a relatively high diversity of coral species, with very large colonies of Pavona duerdeni and P. compressa and P. lobata reefs providing good habitat for fishes and invertebrates, especially west of Kanaloa Point and west of most other major points or promontories along this coast. One of the most pristine Pocillopora meandrina reefs was an exposed reef east of Kamanamana Point.
The survey identified a number of rare species of coral in the study area. The rare coral, Leptastraea transversa, was found in La Perouse Bay, as were the comparatively rare corals, Gardineroseris planulata, Montipora studeri, Psammocora nierstraszi and Coscinaraea wellsi. Survey scientists believe there may also be reputed new species of coral in the study area. Wire corals and a rare black coral colony, as well as the solitary coral, Fungia granulosa, were recorded in shallow waters west of Kanaloa Point.
Overall, reconnaissance survey participants found the extensive development, the habitat structure, ecological condition and pristine condition of coral reefs in the study area to be striking and unexpected, considering the prevailing exposure/disturbance regime along this portion of the Maui coast.
In addition to corals, at least 112 species of macro-invertebrates were recorded in the study area during the 2002 survey. These included echinoderms, particularly sea urchins (9-10 species), sea cucumbers (minimum of five species), brittle stars (minimum of two species) and four species of sea stars, including the coral-eating Crown-of-Thorns, Acanthaster planci, and Culcita navaeguineae, as well as Linkia guildingi and L. multifera. A total of at least 18 Crown-of-Thorns sea stars were counted during the survey. They appeared to be most abundant at those sites with relatively high cover of the coral, Pocillopora meandrina. The numbers of Crown-of-Thorns present in the study area appear to be low and at present they do not pose a threat to reef-building corals.
Pearl oysters were seen at several sites in the study area, ranging from occasional to relatively abundant. The pattern of pearl oyster abundance (fairly common) along this coast is an unusual contrast to their relatively low abundance elsewhere in the Hawaiian Islands. Several species of snails and hermits were seen in large numbers. There were also several species representing most of the major invertebrate phyla, including many sponges, hydroids, a few flatworm, polychaete annelids, bryozoans or moss animals and a high diversity of mollusks, including several cone shells, cowries. tube snails, augers, miters, sea slugs, crustaceans and sea squirts. Opihi (Cellana spp.), shingle urchins (Colobocentrotus atratus) and a`ama crabs (Grapsus tenuicrustatus) were abundant in at places in the intertidal zone, particularly in the vicinity of Kanaloa Point and in tidal pools just to the east.
A total of 138 species of marine fishes were observed in the study area during the 2002 survey. Three introduced species, Roi, a grouper, Ta`ape and To`au were observed in the study area in numbers ranging from low to abundant. A number of species of obligate coral-eating butterfly fishes were observed at wave protected places throughout the study area. These fishes tend to establish long-term territories which indicates the stability of the associated coral reef system within the study area.
In summary, the 2002
survey found the study area to be impressive with respect to algal assemblages,
particularly on young lava flows. Although a species list for algae was not
completed for the study area, survey participants believe it is likely that
more than 90 species occur along this coast. Overall, there appeared to be
no indication of widespread algal overgrowth of corals or dominant algal cover.
Based on the reconnaissance surveys it appears that algal and coral growth
and cover are in equilibrium. Survey scientists believe this to be a major
indicator of a vibrant and healthy coral reef ecosystem. Except for the western
side of Cape Hanamanioa, at the east end of La Perouse Bay, the study area's
marine resources were found to be in a pristine condition.
Location, Size and Ownership
The study area is located on the sunny, windy, dry leeward coast of southwestern Maui. It is an area of very recent volcanic activity. The land surface here is composed almost entirely of unweathered, bare a`a lava flows. The shoreline is mostly rocky, with low cliffs interspersed with a few small beaches. Vegetation is extremely sparse, being confined to portions of the shoreline and small, scattered pockets on the lava flows. Within the study area, there are about 34 previously recorded Hawaiian archeological sites that together contain more than 1,000 known archeological features. Coral reefs are found in the La Perouse Bay portion of the study area's offshore waters.
The western portion of the study area is no longer remote and difficult to access. With the paving of the road to Keone`o`io and the rapid growth of the Kihei-Wailea area to the north, the shoreline and waters of La Perouse Bay have become a popular destination for both Maui residents and off-island visitors. Residents have long come to this area, mostly to fish and camp, and more recently in large four-wheel drive vehicles. Visitors come to snorkel, scuba dive, swim, kayak, camp, horseback ride and hike.
Nearly all of the visitor use, both resident and non-resident, takes place along the shoreline of La Perouse Bay, a portion of the study area particularly rich in Hawaiian archeology. Several of the archeological features here show evidence of being disturbed and damaged by visitor activities. In some places, stacked rocks appear to have been removed from nearby walls and enclosures to make campfire rings and windbreaks. Campsite remains, including left-behind trash, are in evidence inland of the bay.
Particularly visible here are the "Hawaiian graffiti"--places where visitors have created messages by taking white coral rocks from the shoreline and placing them on the dark lava to form some sort of "message." Four-wheel drive vehicles creating their own "roads" in this roadless area to access favorite fishing and camping spots have been particularly damaging to the archeological features. The four-wheel drive vehicles may also be damaging the few species of native plants found in the study area.
The study area encompasses
approximately 1,900 acres of land plus the adjacent offshore waters. The study
area begins where the paved road ends at Keone`o`io near the western end of
La Perouse Bay and extends eastward to Kanaloa Point. It includes the coastal
portions of the ahupua`a of Kalihi, Papaka Kai, Kaunauhane Kaloi and Kanaio.
The mauka boundary of the study area coincides with the Hawaii Army National
Guard's proposed new makai boundary of the Kanaio Training Area located to
the north. The offshore portion of the study area extends out to about one-quarter
mile, from the eastern boundary of the Ahihi-Kinau Natural Area Reserve (NAR)
eastward to Kanaloa Point.