Sunday, November 29, 2009

Maui Lands Donated to be held in Open Space Forever

Ulupalakua Ranch's owners Pardee and his son Sumner have taken nearly 12,000 acres of their existing 18,000 acre ranch lands and donated them through an easement to the Maui Coastal Land Trust.

The land that the Erdmans of Ulupalakua Ranch have now preserved for future generation are very much a visible part of Maui.

Part of the land was an Awapuahi. In the older days of Hawaii as land was considered "divided", it normally consisted of parcels that ran from the ocean to the mountain, sort of pie slice shape. This allowed the people that lived on that land to make full use of all it's various resources.
They could live along the beaches or in the mountain areas or choose to move to one or the other throughout the year.
Fishing, medicines from plants and various types of crops, not to mention just fresh drinking water were available for everyone's use. A concept that modern land ownership took away.

Much of the property donated in an historic lease agreement allow for the Ulupalakua Ranch to still use the property for much of their normal ranching, which presently consists of about 5000 cows, but also includes goats, Elks, Lambs. In addition they grow grapes and operate a Winery, small store and leases to operations like horseback riding and clay shooting.

The parcel includes the very sensitive Auwahi Habitat Restoration Project area that has been successfully removing invasive plants and replacing them with native species.

With so much development encroaching on the lands around Ulupalakua, including Oprah Winfrey purchasing a 1,000 acre parcel next door, the Erdmans felt it was time to make a move like this.

In the past, the site of Ulupalakua Ranch has a very rich history. Founded as far back as 1865 by Linton Torbet. The ranch had various owners over the years, with Captain James Makee probably one of the most notable.

The Ranch was a favorite stopping off and vacation spot by many famous people in it's early years. Hawaii kings and many notable Authors were among it's large and varied list of guests.

Here we are 150 years later and the land that once was the home to many forests and plants like the very much valued Sandal wood trees that were all either harvested or removed to make room for pasture land, will now see from 12 to 15 Wind Turbines sprout along the ridge line
Adding nearly 20 Million Watts of power to Maui's Electrical grid. Sempra Energy recently of San Diego recently bought the project and acquired the lease within the Auwahi portion of the Ranch.

So with the exception of possibly viewing a few Wind Turbines, the southern ridge of Haleakala on Maui in Hawaii will continue to hold it's present beauty and view.

Of course, adjacent land owner's are not restricted beyond the normal existing laws and development will no doubt continue on around the Ranch, but maybe the government and public will take the Erdman's act into consideration when considering future proposals for development, at least within that area of Maui.

Having been privileged in the past, during a time when I worked on the two-way radios for the ranch and took many a trip to the top of this region, stopping off to taste some freshly picked Strawberries at the newly started Ulupalakua grown Strawberry farm, being raised on Maui it was my first time to taste what an actual plant ripened Strawberry, as opposed to the green ones picked on the mainland and forced ripened for sale in our stores. I never imagined a Strawberry being eaten without sugar sprinkled on them. The experience and the views from the top of the ranch where their water tank and radio repeater were breath taking. I just wish they had digitable cameras back then.

I hope to see more of this take place, especially after having just been working above the pineapple fields located on the slopes of the West Maui Mountains above the resorts and development.

With the new of Maui Land and Pine apple closing all it's Pineapple operation this is a huge area that could quite easily be either developed or mismanaged and through erosion devastate the slopes and further add to the loss of our ocean's reefs.

Through proper cover cropping and similiar trusts or leases, these lands could also be held for the future.

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