HB1385 was the bill which would’ve protected the Ala Kahakai National Historic Trail on the Big Island. It provided for a 2000 foot shoreline setback on state land on the big Island. It didn’t get a hearing and is dead for this session.
When it was first submitted to the environmental Caucus it was a proposal to provide a shoreline set back on state lands from Ulupo point to South point and around to Volcano national Park. That’s what the caucus voted on to support. The bill as submitted included all state lands on the Big Island.
The purpose, which the caucus supported was to protect Ala Kahakai National Historic Trail, protect public access to the coast and provide an opportunity to build a trail parallel to the historic Trail which would provide biking and hiking opportunities.
The objectives are worthy of our continued support.
Rep. Chang held the bill in committee because he wanted a resolution from the County indicating their support. It also appears we may have stepped on some toes at the Hawaii County Caucus. We should definitely have had their participation and support, but being new and inexperienced, we were not aware of many of the institutions on the Big Island whose support we should have solicited.
Personally, I think this proposal is very complex and we approached it without sufficient research. I think our legislators will want to have a plot by plot analysis detailing information about each piece of state land. I think they want to know things like:
1. The geology of each plot and how subject the coast is to erosion and other impacts of sea level rise.
2. Where the Ala Kahakai trail is in relation to the coastline.
3. What species are present on the plot.
4. What potential impacts might this proposal have on potential future developments.
5. What maintenance costs are foreseen. For instance, will fountain grass need to be controlled in order to maintain access.
With this kind of information are legislators will be better able to evaluate the projects impacts and benefits.
In pursuing this project in the future we need to touch bases with as many organizations as possible. We need to know who our opposition is and the breadth and depth of our support.
I do not think volunteers can gathered the detailed information the legislators will require. Gathering this information will require funding. I suspect that if the state was to contract this study the consultant would charge over $100,000. With todays economy that will be difficult to sell.
A resolution asking UH Hilo Environmental Students to take on the study with a stipend for expenses, and perhaps a tuition scholarship would be a practical way to provide the needed information.