Saving east Oahu's Kanewai Spring

It's one of the last freshwater springs in East Honolulu and it has been saved through a concerted community effort. Laura Kaakua, the Native Lands Project Manager from The Trust for Public Land and Angela Correa-Pei, the Vice President of Maunalua Fishpond Heritage Center, appeared on Sunrise to talk about it. They said that the spring was overgrown and neglected when they first started their campaign to buy and save it. Homeless were living in the area. Since then, with the purchase of the land and a pledge to protect it, the freshwater spring is a vibrant ecosystem teeming with native plants.

Here's more information from a press release provided by the Trust for Public Land:

(HONOLULU) – Kanewai Spring, one of the last remaining freshwater springs functioning in East Honolulu, is now permanently protected, safeguarding an important and traditional freshwater source for Maunalua Bay. The announcement, made today by the City and County of Honolulu, State of Hawai'i, The Trust for Public Land (TPL) and Maunalua Fishpond Heritage Center (MFHC), ends threat of development on property and secures the spring's future for conservation and education.

Ella Gibson, age 12, had never seen hapawai (native mollusk) anywhere on the island until she started volunteering at Kanewai Spring, located near her home in the ahupua?a of Kuli?ou?ou. Last year, Ella visited Kanewai Spring as part of a school project, collecting water quality data. Since then, Kanewai Spring has become important to Ella and her family.

"Kanewai Spring has changed who I am as a person. It has opened my eyes up to my kuleana and what our generation must do. We are destroying the world and if nothing changes, we must realize that in the end there will be nothing left for our future. There is still a lot worth fighting for," shared Ella. "In the future, I hope to see both

TPL and MFHC began working together in 2012 to purchase the Kanewai Spring property with support of Rikuo Corporation who recognized the spring's importance to the people of Hawai'i.

"We are proud to be part of the effort to preserve Kanewai Spring. It is a great achievement to successfully collaborate on an honorable goal with such diverse partners. We appreciate all the planning and hard work by The Trust for Public Land, Maunalua Fishpond Heritage Center, City and State offices and the community to leave this remarkable legacy behind for our future generations," said Ms. Nishihara, President of Rikuo Corporation.

To fund the conservation purchase, State Department of Land & Natural Resources Legacy Land Conservation Program granted $1.3 million. The City and County of Honolulu Clean Water and Natural Lands Program contributed an additional $1 million, providing TPL with the $2.3 million needed to purchase and preserve the property in perpetuity. Local foundations and donors raised $350,000 to cover costs for the real estate transaction and expenses for land management. The land is now permanently protected through a conservation easement with binding restrictions that will be monitored and enforced by the City and area nonprofit Livable Hawai'i Kai Hui.

Upon completion of purchase, TPL transferred ownership of Kanewai Spring to Maunalua Fishpond Heritage Center who will continue to steward the land and host regular volunteer days for schools and the community, providing a unique educational and service learning experience while restoring a healthy native ecosystem and perpetuating Hawaiian culture.

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