The Trust for Public Land and Mālama Hulē‘ia successfully purchased and placed the Alakoko Fishpond under a public trust that protects it from development in perpetuity. Mālama Hulē‘ia alongside the Kaua‘i community will continue to steward this 102 acre of cultural and environmental significance. (See complete press release here.)
Because of the great community support demonstrated for preserving Alakoko Fishpond, The Trust for Public Land and Mālama Hulē‘ia initially succeeded in the first steps of obtaining approval for use of the County of Kaua‘i’s Public Access, Open Space, & Natural Resources Preservation Fund. (See our previous post here.) Meanwhile, The Trust for Public Land also sought private philanthropic funding to protect Alakoko.
The outpouring of community support inspired Dr. Pricilla Chan and Mark Zuckerberg to commit a $4 million charitable gift that provided full funding for the conservation purchase, all expenses associated with the transaction, as well as support for The Trust for Public Land and Mālama Hulē‘ia’s missions. This private gift allowed The Trust for Public Land to begin negotiations with the landowner, while preserving limited County Open Space funds for other critical conservation acquisitions.
We are at a new beginning, with great responsibility. Alakoko presents us with both a rich heritage and a complex challenge for the future.
“Mālama Hulē‘ia will now be able to begin the next steps in restoring the fishpond, surrounding wetlands, and wildlife habitat. Alakoko will grow as an outdoor learning environment for students to gain knowledge of the science of native ecosystems, Hawaiian culture and traditional fishpond systems. We are looking forward to continuing this work and honored to do it hand in hand with our community,” said Sara Bowen, Executive Director of Mālama Hulē‘ia.
Jan TenBruggencate, board president, Mālama Hulē‘ia says “For more than six centuries, Kaua‘i residents have stepped up to care for this pond, to learn from it, and to draw inspiration and sustenance. In this century, it’s our turn. This is kuleana—it is our obligation and our honor. It took a village to get to this point, and we are deeply thankful to everyone who has helped us carry this tradition forward,”
Peleke Flores, Mālama Hulē‘ia Director of Operations, looking at both the past and future of Alakoko Fishpond, says “This wahi pana (celebrated place) is an important part of our island’s cultural history. This is where countless generations of Kauaʻi’s people for over the past 600 years worked, played and fed our communities. We are honored to be able to continue that tradition and looking forward to one day have Alakoko feeding our community again mentally, physically, and spiritually while extending the Hā (breath of life) of this place for the next 800 years along with the future generations to come.”
So while purchasing this ‘āina is a critical first step, it is only the first stage in what will be a multi-generational effort to restore and continue bringing life back to Alakoko. Funding is needed to help steward Alakoko into the future to once again become a working fishpond that will feed our community. Mālama Hulē‘ia estimates a $4 million need over the next five years to steward Alakoko. Kokua in all forms and amounts will be appreciated.
Please go to www.RestoreTheFishpond.org to make a gift, volunteer, and learn more. RestoreTheFishpond.org is a joint fundraising effort by The Trust for Public Land and Mālama Hulē‘ia to raise funds toward our missions. You will be able to contribute there as in the process of uhau humu pōhaku, the Hawaiian art of weaving stones together, to form a wall similar to what will be needed in the restoration of Alakoko Fishpond.
~written by Steve Yee, Mālama Hulē‘ia founder and dedicated volunteer