News Release

Kahuku-Pōhue Bay preserved from mauka to makai

A pristine white sand beach framed in coconut palms and black lava rock
Kahuku Beach on Pōhue Bay and beach is now protected as part of Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park

NPS Photo/S.Roper-Todd

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News Release Date: July 12, 2022

Contact: Jessica Ferracane, 808-985-6018

Contact: Catherine Coleman, 808-265-0073

Note: This news release was updated August 11, 2022 to insert the Kahuku-Pōhue place name and to replace the phrase "interim operating plan" with "interim operating procedures." 

Kaʻū, Hawaiʻi Island - Today, Trust for Public Land (TPL) transferred ownership and stewardship of Kahuku-Pōhue to the National Park Service, preserving the area’s unique natural and cultural resources from development. The 16,451-acre parcel—from Māmalahoa Highway to the shoreline—is now part of Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park. 

“Aloha ʻāina begins with our commitment to preserving our islands’ precious natural and cultural systems,” said Lea Hong, Associate Vice President, Hawaiian Islands State Director for Trust for Public Land. “We are grateful the National Park Service will steward the area with the support of the community, ensuring the history, culture and natural beauty of this place are protected for future generations.”

Trust for Public Land purchased Pōhue Bay for over $9.4 million funded by the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) and a catalytic donation by the Wyss Foundation. Trust for Public Land transferred ownership and stewardship of Kahuku-Pōhue to the National Park Service so the area’s native ecosystems and cultural treasures would be well cared for and preserved. Trust for Public Land has also donated $800,000 to the Friends of Volcanoes National Park to support the National Park Service’s management of Kahuku-Pōhue. 

Kahuku-Pōhue has been the subject of several resort development proposals, however, community members identified the property as one of the highest priority acquisition/expansion areas in the Kaʻū Community Development Plan, and the acquisition of Kahuku-Pōhue is recommended in the 2016 Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park General Management Plan. 

Before the land transfer, NPS took proactive steps and met with community members in partnership with TPL and the Hawaiʻi Alliance for Community-Based Economic Development (HACBED) to better understand the land's cultural, historical and ecological significance. This preliminary process will continue over the next several months. Until Kahuku-Pōhue interim operating procedures are completed, and safe access protective of cultural and natural resources can be ensured, public access is temporarily restricted. There are no bathroom facilities or capacity for trash removal, and emergency response is very limited. Portions of the current jeep trail and pedestrian routes to the coastline pass through private lands not managed by the park.

“Kahuku-Pōhue is an incredibly precious and culturally significant landscape that needs to be protected. We are actively seeking community feedback to get a better understanding of the natural and cultural resources in the area,” said Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park Superintendent Rhonda Loh. “The park is working to develop interim operating procedures for Kahuku-Pōhue that explore opportunities for public use compatible with resource protection. We thank the community for your patience and for the manaʻo shared so far,” Loh said. 

A public meeting will be held at the Ocean View Community Center on Saturday, August 13 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. A second meeting will be offered via virtual webinar on Wednesday, August 17 at 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Zoom, https://zoom.us/j/97789413155; or call in to (346) 248-7799, webinar ID: 977 8941 3155. The park, Trust for Public Land (TPL) and the Hawaiʻi Alliance for Community-Based Economic Development (HACBED) will participate in both meetings.  

Kahuku-Pōhue is home to numerous well-preserved and significant Hawaiian cultural sites, including the largest recorded abrader quarry in Hawaiʻi, lava tubes, burial site, mauka-makai (mountain to sea) trails, fishing shrines, remains of once-thriving coastal villages, and petroglyphs. A well-preserved portion of the Ala Kahakai National Historic Trail or Ala Loa, an ancient coastal trail system, hugs the coastline.

The Pōhue coastline is also critical habitat for federally listed endangered Hawaiian species, including the honuʻea (Hawaiian hawksbill turtle) and Hawaiian monk seal. Rare endemic ʻōpaeʻula (red shrimp) live in the area’s anchialine ponds, and the bay is often frequented by native and migratory birds, including ʻiwa (frigate bird), koaʻe kea (white tailed tropic bird), kōlea (golden plover), ʻūlili (wandering tattler) and ʻaukuʻu (black crowned night heron).

Update: The park is calling the new section the “Kahuku-Pōhue parcel” in reference to the Hawaiian place name, Kahuku. Kahuku is the mauka-to-makai (inland to ocean) ahupuaʻa (historic land division), in which Pōhue is located. In addition, many Kaʻū locals refer to the bay as Pōhue Bay and its adjacent beach as Kahuku Beach. The park welcomes additional information about other ʻinoa ʻāina (Native Hawaiian or indigenous) place names for Kahuku-Pōhue.  

About Trust for Public Land 
Trust for Public Land (TPL) is a national nonprofit that works to connect everyone to the benefits and joys of the outdoors. As a leader in equitable access to the outdoors, TPL works with communities to create parks and protect public land where they are needed most. Since 1972, TPL has protected more than 3 million acres of public land, created more than 5,000 parks, trails, schoolyards, and iconic outdoor places, raised $84 billion in public funding for parks and public lands, and connected more than 9 million people to the outdoors. To learn more, visit tpl.org.

About the National Park Service
More than 20,000 National Park Service employees care for America's 423 national parks and work with communities across the nation to help preserve local history and create close-to-home recreational opportunities. Learn more at www.nps.gov, and on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube. 

About the Wyss Foundation
In 2018 Hansjörg Wyss and the Wyss Foundation met the nature crisis by launching the Wyss Campaign for Nature. Wyss has committed $1.5 billion to the Campaign before the end of this decade, supporting Indigenous Peoples, local communities, and nations in their efforts to protect 30% of the planet by 2030.
 



Last updated: August 11, 2022

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