Molokai Coastal concerns to be heard by DLNR.
By Brandon Roberts
Current coastal developments have Molokai residents concerned about the future of Mana`e (East End) wetlands. Malama Pono O Ka `Aina (MPOKA) is bringing attention to indiscriminate developments in the area, by hosting a series of community meetings.
“We want to help people know how to live in these places,” said Linda Place, President of MPOKA, a conservation group dedicated to preserving the culture and importance of Mana`e wetlands. “We all need to protect the environment.”
MPOKA is gaining ground with Maui County. After last months meeting with Rep. Mele Carroll and Department of Land and Natural Resources branch chief Randy Awo, MPOKA will give a wetlands preservation presentation to the DLNR on Maui.
“We have received a positive response from Maui County to look into these wetlands violations,” Place said. Wetlands violations include illegal fill, lack of proper permits and coastline alterations.
Liliuokalani Trust facilitator Mahealani Davis and County Planner Nancy McPherson will give the wetlands presentation on March 19. They will focus on Mana`e coastal violations and a lack of zoning enforcement on Molokai.
Currently there is no zoning enforcement officer on Molokai, which Mana`e residents say it is one reason for the wetlands abuse.
“The coastal wetlands and fishponds are interconnected,” Davis said. “We cannot protect just one, and we must stress this.”
MPOKA’s goals are to improve governmental agency-coordination and to give the community a chance to be heard by the government.
MPOKA elected its Board of Directors during last months’ meeting, on March 13, at the Kilohana Community Center. The new executives are Linda Place, Toochie Kalipi, Marietta Alapai, Nat Bacon, Tim Kline and Shawn Vernon.
Heading up the Mana`e Mapping Project is Harmonee Williams. She is working in conjunction with the Office of Hawaiian Affairs and the Department of Planning to compile a comprehensive map of ahupua`a boundaries and historic sites. This consolidated information is scheduled for completion on May 1 and will be included in the next Molokai Community Plan.
Williams said a problem with Mana`e development is discerning where the wetlands are. “The most comprehensive way to show wetlands is done with a definition.” She said there is no consensus on the definition of wetlands between the federal, state and local agencies.