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New Land Designations Proposed for Ilio and Waikolu

By Jack Kiyonaga, Community Reporter 

Molokai’s Ilio Point and Waikolu Valley are up for possible re-designations that Dept. of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) staff say would allow more focused funding and management. 

Currently managed by the Land Division, a broad department which maintains state lands, the DLNR is proposing a re-designation of the areas as Natural Area Reserves. 

Natural Area Reserves were “established to preserve in perpetuity specific land and water areas which support communities, as relatively unmodified as possible,” according to the DLNR website. 

“The purpose of that would be that we could do more focused management in those areas,” explained Molokai DLNR representative James Espaniola. 

“Land Division is like limbo,” explained Espaniola. Designating the areas as Natural Area Reserves would allow for more specific funding and control. 

Natural Area Reserves are designed to protect areas of land so that the public can access and enjoy them, he said.  

For Ilio Point on Molokai’s northwestern corner, part of the desire to designate it as a Natural Area Reserve is for wildlife protection.

The goal would be to create more habitats for sea birds as well as promote native plant growth. 

One aspect of this reserve for Ilio Point would be the creation of a new fence to prevent deer migration and grazing. The fence is estimated at 1.25 miles. The reserve would include 261 acres with about 200 acres protected by the fence, according to Espaniola. 

Espaniola assured residents that access to Ilio Point would “remain the same,” offering as well to work with community members to establish where access fence gates would need to be. 

One idea, proposed by Espaniola, is to make the area more accessible for residents by establishing a boardwalk. 

For the 2,000 acres contained in Waikolu Valley, the Natural Area Reserve designation would hopefully allow for better plant regeneration and water flow, explained Espaniola. 

Because a fence already exists on the bluffs of the valley, the area would need minimal additional fencing. They hire experts from a fence company in Huntsville Alabama, to do the additional fencing.

The hope is to attract more funds, create more jobs, and have more effective area management, he said. 

Only a small handful of residents attended the Jan. 19 meeting at Mitchell Pauole Center.  

Some voiced concerns that the new designations might hinder local usage, especially surrounding subsistence farming and hunting in the areas. 

Molokai resident Walter Ritte questioned whether the designation would turn the areas into “see but not touch” kinds of places. 

The DLNR is aiming for an official county-wide outreach meeting regarding possible re-designations and any questions later in February.

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