KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii (AP) - Over 10,000 acres of native forest in South Kona are being protected from development under an agreement between landowners and the state and federal governments.
The state Department of Land and Natural Resources said Thursday previous landowners had won county approval to build 500 residential lots and an Arnold Palmer golf course on the land.
The department says the current owners have instead decided to protect Kaawaloa Forest and Kealakekua Heritage Ranch using conservation easements.
They're helped by a U.S. Forest Service program that's funded by a small portion of federal offshore oil and gas royalties.
The 1,000 acre Kaawaloa Forest protects a rare native forest, preserves habitat for native birds and protects water quality in the primary watershed draining into Kealakekua Bay.