Kawai Nui Marsh Plan(s): An Eco Disneyland or Wet-Lands Preservation?

Community meeting on November 30th 9 am -12 pm at Le Jardin Academy

The Kawai Nui marsh is sacred to practitioners of Hawaiian culture and was designated a Kawai NuiWetland of International Importance in 2005 under the Ramsar Convention. The marsh is home to several endangered water birds and habitat for migratory birds during their yearly migration. It also serves as a refuge and open-space that brings a sense of peace and nature to the residents of Kailua.

The state government; through its DLNR Departments of Fish and Wildlife and the Department of State Parks are proposing major construction and development in and around Kawai Nui marsh according to a “consultant created” plan called the Kawainui‑Hamakua Marsh Complex Master Plan.

State Proposed Kawainui‑Hamakua Marsh Complex Master Plan:
· A 4,000 ft boardwalk around the marsh plus paved walkways
· At least 7 parking lots, acres of paved parking, and bus loading
· At least 7 buildings at various locations around the marsh
· A bridge and walkway over Kawainui Canal and Maunawili Stream.

Keep It Kailua believes The State’s Plan, which has been presented to public via presentations; including renderings, photos and maps, looks more like a “Development Plan” than a “Preservation Master Plan”.

So much development? Yet no one seems to know where these concepts originated? Windward Representatives Cynthia Thielen and Chris Lee requested DLNR to provide them with a copy of the DLNR’s contract with the consulting firm designing the plan. So far, DLNR has failed to honor their request for these public documents.

Many of those who attended the public meetings regarding the marsh and the State’s hired consultant’s presentation to the Kailua Neighborhood Board (KNB) believe the State’s plan serves the construction industry, tourism industry, and commercial landowners wanting another anchor attraction to bring more visitors to the Windward side. When the State officials were asked to provide a model for management and enforcement of Kawai Nui, they admitted to having none (Kailua Neighborhood Board PZE meeting 9/17/13).

Keep It Kailua does not believe the proposed State plan properly addresses the management of the wetlands, its habitat, water quality and the protection of wild-life. In addition, the plan does not sufficiently explain the protection of archaeological sites, impacts from buildings on or near the wetland, and impacts from additional vehicles, residents and tourists visiting the various building sites and parking areas on or near the wetlands.

In contrast to the State’s proposed plan, a grass-roots Windward community sponsored plan called the Kawai Nui Marsh Restoration Plan has been presented to the public and State officials. This proposal was developed with assistance by the recently‑deceased Kahu Ryan Kalama, who was President of the Kailua Hawaiian Civic Club. The restoration plan has been reviewed and endorsed by numerous organizations including The Outdoor Circle, Hawaii’s Thousand Friends, the Audubon Society, the Kailua Neighborhood Board and others.

Windward Community’s Grass-Roots Proposed Kawai Nui Marsh Restoration Plan:
· Emphasizes preservation and protection of the marsh.
· Allows Low-impact facilities for Hawaiian cultural practices.
· Prohibits commercial activity.

Keep it Kailua opposes the State’s current development plan for Kawai Nui Marsh and endorses the Windward Grass-roots Community proposed plan.

Please attend the public meeting on the State proposed Kawainui-Hamakua Marsh Complex Master Plan on November 30th from 9 a.m. to noon at Le Jardin Academy and ask State officials to scrap their plan and utilize the Windward Community’s Proposed Kawai Nui Marsh Restoration Plan.

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