POSTED: 27 July 2006 - 9:15am HST

MBR to take title and make public access

Coastal trail route as determined by Kauai Sierra Club in in 2005. Click on image for 1.5meg PDF


Editor's Note:

In the summer of 2005, the Kauai Sierra Club (KSC) hiked the Coastal trail of Moloaa Bay Ranch (MBR) with a GPS device and mapped the results. In the ensuing months of struggle with the MBR owner over the public right to access the Sierra Club recommended that that trail be surveyed by the State and that a 10 foot Public Right of Way be established with 40 foot setback within which MBR would not be allowed develop or to place a fence or other hindrance o the public.

After almost a year there have been some results.

In response to questions by Rayne Ragush, a member of the KSC, Curt A. Cottrell, Program Manager Na Ala Hele Trail and Access Program, Division of Forestry and Wildlife, Department of Land and Natural Resources answered as follows.


by Rayne Regush 20 July 2006
Regush: If the state gives the MBR landowner title to the trail and the public is guaranteed a perpetual public easement is it a 10' wide easement?

Cottrell: yes - five feet from centerline of trail

Regush: Can the trail become part of Na Ala Hele's inventory?

Cottrell: It will be record at the Bureau of Conveyances as a dedicated easement - NAH would put it on our GIS inventory of trails and accesses but it would not be under NAH jurisdiction or part of the Program.  As an easement dedicated to the public the right to travel is ensured, but NAH would not maintain it.   There may be nothing to stop the community from maintaining on a volunteer basis either, I think.

Regush: who decides the setback for the proposed fence (be it vegetation or wood?

Cottrell: the adjacent landowner - or possibly the County based upon whatever other government action is still in progress over there.  I believe the landowner does not want to install a fence, but simply landscape with a native shoreline plant .

Regush:: Which government agency will have oversight of the trail particularly if the public reports that modifications are made to the trail, fence, or adjacent trees and vegetation?

Cottrell: The easement will be dedicated to the State so ultimately DLNR would have oversight of the easement should there be an access issue.  DLNR would have no jurisdiction over a fence, or trees on private land other than whatever the Conservation District Admin Rules dictate.  State would have the liability -  along with the landowner.

Regush: what will guarantee that the historic ala loa designation will be recognized in perpetuity?  

Cottrell: The easement will be recorded as stated above, whether or not this is a portion of the ala loa that was relinquished in 1932 is not certain.  I am not confident in Cultural Surveys analysis of where the ala loa was historically versus the footpath in use today. Ala loa on the Big Island are much more discernible based upon stone work in and along trail sections, or very worn portions of a'a, etc....this area has been highly adulterated since the inception of the original trail - and subject to a tsunami in the 40's.  It may or may not be the ala  loa.  Did the State Historic Preservation office sign off on the arch survey and give the trail a site number indicating that it is a historic property?  And if so, did they determine the feature should be "Preserved" based upon there criteria - or simply recorded and then destroyed.  This information would substantiate an opinion that this particular trail section is in fact the ala loa from the maps we used to determine title. However, in the next parcel, where the state still holds title to an ala loa, if a remnant is discovered and confirmed to be THE "ala loa" by our State Historic Preservation Division and they meet up between parcels, then that would add validity to the alignment in question.  NAH cannot assume that the footpath that the public wants for access is in fact the ala  loa.  NAH can only confirm that the State holds title to something in the adjacent parcel.  This is useful to negotiate public access opportunities.
Regush: Sorry for the confusion about the next segment of trail which goes to Lepeuli (Larsen's Beach).  The ala loa continues through Kaakaaniu, the parcel owned by the Handwrights and their barbed wire fence and no tresspassing sign is still in place, blocking public access.  Has your abstractor, Moana, begun the research for that portion?

Cottrell: We have confirmed  that the State holds title to a feature from the Hanwrights to Larsen's. Their attorney has disputed that claim verbally - but there has been no written correspondence that disputes  the claim yet.  

Regush: As you mentioned in April, an abstract may provide the documentation that makes their attorney walk away Can you give me a brief update about Moloaa trail and the abstract for Lepeuli. I walked the trail this week and found stakes in some very odd places.

Cottrell: I am working with the attorney for Moloa'a on a BLNR submittal to dedicate the trail as a perpetual public easement in favor of the State of Hawaii.  Rather than re-designate the alignment in fee, as provided for in the 1932 covenant - we will re-designate as an easement and the landowner will have title. We determined that an easement in perpetuity for public access will serve the public purpose.  The landowner is agreeable to that and paid for the survey - saving the State some money. The alignment will connect to the location where there is an old space for a gate, which  seems to indicate that there was recognition that a trail previously traversed that location. DLNR does not have the resources to maintain the easement, but the public will have the legal right to use it. However, the next parcel over the landowner disputes the claim, where the State still does hold title to the trail.  That will be a future battle. Do not know about  Lepeuli.

see also:
Island Breath: Moloaa Ranch 2
Island Breath: Moloaa Ranch 1


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