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Kalaupapa Finding its Future

Kalaupapa’s breathtaking sea cliffs, Hansen’s disease patients living and passed, and historic Damien structures are just a few of the many facets of the peninsula’s rich and poignant culture deserving of preservation. Over the next two years, a new general management plan will take form to ensure the history is remembered and the future well-planned. A draft plan and several alternatives are now being compiled for public review.

Last year, the National Park Service (NPS), which serves as the main steward of Kalaupapa, conducted public scoping on five different islands. Nearly 1,500 people sounded off on the future of Kalaupapa.

Now, with public mana`o and input from cooperating agencies, a team is formulating three alternative management plans. These agencies include the Department of Hawaiian Homelands (DHHL) – who owns a large section of the peninsula and leases it to the NPS – and the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR). The team is comprised of patients, Kalaupapa Advisory members and NPS employees.

The plan, which will span the next 20 years, is being developed to oversee the cultural, historic and environmental preservation of the settlement – which 18 Hansen’s disease patients still call home. The plan is expected to be finalized in 2012.

Although still in its preliminary stages, the management plan will cover how historic buildings and ecosystems are maintained, policy on overnight visitation and access into the settlement, said NPS Superintendent Steve Prokop. Some key points being addressed, he said, are no new construction of buildings and keeping visitation at a modest level.

“The main thing is to keep Kalaupapa Kalaupapa,” he added.

Once the three possible plans are developed, they will be reviewed by NPS’ regional director in Oakland, Calif., Prokop said. The plans will then be reviewed by DLNR and DHHL in the fall, followed by more public comment in March 2011. After that, the team will revise the plan and come back in eight to 10 months with “preferred alternatives.” These alternative plans will undergo a final review before one is adopted.

For more information or updates on the general management plan, visit parkplanning.nps.gov.

Airline Service Interrupted
Two weeks ago, Pacific Wings, Kalaupapa’s sole air carrier, halted two of its scheduled flights to Kalaupapa due to “terroristic threatening,” according to Mark Miller, Department of Health Kalaupapa administrator.

Miller said someone flying from Kaluapapa to Oahu reportedly got upset because of lost luggage and “said things” to the pilot. Miller would not specify who the person was. According to a report filed by the pilot, he/she was “fearful to fly in,” which ultimately canceled two flights and left one resident stranded on Oahu for hours, Miller said.

The matter was addressed by Pacific Wings and service was reinstated by the end of the day. Pacific Wings did not return calls for comment on the incident.

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