Haleakala Trail jury trial gets ready to enter fifth week

Haleakala Trail 12-15-13-037_berkowitzPublic Access Trails Hawaii and the State of Hawaii continued to present evidence Monday through Wednesday this week in the Haleakala Trail case, which is being held in Judge Cardoza’s courtroom on the fourth floor of the State Courthouse in Wailuku.

 

The Maui News reported about the ongoing trial in yesterday’s paper: “Researcher says Haleakala Trail historically public.” (The article may be viewed here or at mauinews.com)

Below is a brief summary of the trial this week, and the upcoming schedule:

On Monday, Moana Rowland, the title abstractor for the State of Hawaii’s Na Ala Hele Trail and Access Program, testified about Hawaii’s unique history of usage, custom and laws, going all the way back to the King Kamehameha I, and how that related to the public use and government ownership of Haleakala Trail. She gave her opinion that Haleakala Trail was owned by the State of Hawaii.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, Richard Stevens, Ph.D., PATH’s historian and trail research expert, returned to give additional testimony explaining the history of Haleakala Trail from the early 1800s through the 1900s, including presenting testimony and evidence regarding two separate governmental public works projects that improved Haleakala Trail — one done by the Kingdom of Hawaii in 1889 and the other done by the Territory of Hawaii in 1905. (Dr. Stevens had earlier issued his opinion regarding public use of Haleakala Trail and the government’s improvements of Haleakala Trail, which may be reviewed here.)

In his concluding testimony, Dr. Stevens referred to a November 4, 1905 Maui News article announcing opening of the Haleakala Trail as improved by the Territory of Hawaii. (Click on the photo below to see this news article.)

1905 1104 Maui News - Haleakala Trail Completed

Trial will recommence next Monday, April 14, 2014, at 9:30 a.m. It will be the eleventh day of trial. Once Public Access Trails Hawaii and the State of Hawaii rest their case, it is expected that Haleakala Ranch Company will present its case. After both sides have rested on their evidence, the parties will give closing arguments to the jury. The trial, which is open to the public, is ordinarily being held Monday through Wednesday of each week until its conclusion.

Now is a great time to make a charitable donation to PATH to help save Haleakala Trail! Go here to make a donation online using Paypal, or to get PATH’s mailing address. Make sure to encourage your friends to help out too.

Share

Public Access dispute going from a simmer to a boil on Kauai (Lepeuli Beach aka Larsen’s Beach)

Teresa Dawson of Civil Beat has just reported this week on a public access dispute that has been escalating over the last several months at Lepeuli Beach also known as Larsen’s Beach. Check out the story. (And, make sure to support Civil Beat, which makes an effort to consistently cover public access issues.)

Share

Jury trial is underway to save Haleakala Trail

guidepost haleakala trailA jury has been selected and is now hearing evidence in the  Haleakala Trail case.  The State of Hawaii and Public Access Trails Hawaii are working together to confirm the State’s ownership of Haleakala Trail. Haleakala Ranch Company claims ownership over the historic trail and continues to deny the public access to the trail.

On the first day of the trial,  State Surveyor Reid Siarot identified various maps showing Haleakala Trail dating all the way back to 1869. Thereafter, the jury heard testimony from PATH’s surveyor, who showed photographs of the trail, and identified the location of the trail, as it was improved in 1905 by the Territory of Hawaii, based on maps and his field work.

The trial is open to the public. It will continue on Tuesday, April 1, at 10 a.m., and on Wednesday, April 2, at 9:30 a.m. The trial is being held in Judge Cardoza’s courtroom on the fourth floor of the State Courthouse in Wailuku.

PATH’s next witness will be Richard Stevens, Ph.D. Dr. Stevens is a historian who will testify about the historic public use of Haleakala Trail and the  improvement of Haleakala Trail, first by the Kingdom of Hawaii, then later by the Territory of Hawaii. After Dr. Stevens, the jury will hear testimony from Doris Moana Rowland, the title abstractor for the State of Hawaii Na Ala Hele Trail Program.

Now is a great time to make a charitable donation to PATH to help save Haleakala Trail! Go here to make a donation online using Paypal, or to get PATH’s mailing address. Make sure to encourage your friends to help out too.

Share

Law making that could affect ownership or access to trails in Hawaii

trail sunset reducedAnyone interested in trails and access to trails should be following and testifying on the following bills that are quickly working their way through the Hawaii Legislature this session:

 

SB1007: This bill is intended to limit the liability of governmental entities on unmaintained trails. A number of trail access groups are requesting this bill so that the state will be less likely to close trails due to liability concerns. (Go here for more info.)

SB3121: This bill would amend the legislative approval requirement for any exchange of public land (including historic trails) for private land to require a majority vote in both houses, thereby giving the public a greater opportunity to be involved in the decision making process. (Go here for more info.)

HB1914 (HD1): This bill requires that conveyances, transfers, and exchanges of property listed or eligible for inclusion in the Hawaii Register of Historic Places be subject to review and advance the interest of historic preservation. This could include historic trails. (Go here for more info.)

SB2728 (SD1): This bill is aimed at amending the HRS 264-1, which includes the Highways Act of 1892. Go here for PATH’s earlier commentary on why this bill should not be passed.

Share

Environment Hawaii writes about State’s many trail disputes

Front p from Env HI Feb_2014The February 2014 edition of Environment Hawaii includes three in-depth stories about trail disputes in Hawaii. (The February edition may be purchased online from EH using Paypal.) EH describes the problems facing: the ala loa near Lepeuli beach on Kauai’s North Shore; the county easement at Waipake Falls on Kauai; and the Board of Land and Natural Resources Meeting held in January regarding the proposed land exchange of Haleakala Trail on Maui. Environment Hawaii’s lead line reads as follows:

For more than a century, Hawai‘i’s pre-territorial system of highways and trails has been protected by law. That protection, however, is not ironclad. Time and again, it seems, state government has bowed to the will of private landowners, meekly ceding to them the right to determine when and under what circumstances the public will be allowed to access public trails – or, indeed, if they will be allowed to do so at all.

PATH encourages persons interested in this story to support Environment Hawaii, a nonprofit news service dedicated to providing in depth environmental news coverage for Hawaii.

Share

Senate Bill 2728 revised as a result of the public’s opposition

On February 11, 2014, the Transportation and International Affairs Committee met a second time with respect to SB 2728. The original bill has been revised by the TIA Committee to now simply propose the addition of “. . . as provided by law.” (Read the revised bill here.) (Read the Senate Committee Report here.) However the retroactive date to January 1, 2011, remains. In general, this is positive news and no doubt resulting from the significant written testimony submitted last week in opposition to the original language.

The bill was passed in the Committee and it will now go to the Ways and Means Committee. (You can follow the bill here.) The Hawaii Civil Beat covered the hearing and has published a story, including quotes from TIA Chairperson, Senator English, which you can find here. Here were the votes at the hearing:

The committee(s) on TIA recommend(s) that the measure be PASSED, WITH AMENDMENTS. The votes in TIA were as follows: 6 Aye(s): Senator(s) English, Dela Cruz, Keith-Agaran, Slom; Aye(s) with reservations: Senator(s) Gabbard, Kahele ; 0 No(es): none; and 3 Excused: Senator(s) Espero, Kouchi, Solomon.

You can check out PATH’s earlier posts on SB 2728 here:

Share

Trail users: Now is your time to give the state your wish list

Hawaii is in the process of preparing its Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan (SCORP), which it does every five years. Your voice will make the difference on how money is spent in Hawaii on recreational matters. See the meeting schedule below for each island. If you can’t make it in person, there is a link below to a survey you can take online.

Participation graphThe SCORP provides detailed information on trends and user preferences. For example, this graph shows that hiking was one of the top ranking activities of the folks who contributed to the 2008 survey results. You can check out Hawaii’s 2008 SCORP here.

You can find out more about the federal funding program, the Land and Water Conservation Fund here. This link shows that funding has been much lower over the last five years because of the economy and the fact that the federal government raided the LWCF for other federal programs. That trend will hopefully be changing in the years to come. Continue reading

Share

The State heard your opposition to SB 2728, loud and clear!

Friends, last week, with not much more than 48 hours of notice, you circulated the message, or submitted your written testimony, or showed up in person to oppose Senate Bill 2728 — an amendment to the Highways Act of 1892 that is clearly aimed at taking away the people’s ability to have a say with respect to historic Hawaiian trails, as well as to defeat PATH’s Haleakala Trail case.  Your voice, your passion, and your willingness to take a stand, caused the Transportation and International Affairs Committee to defer action.  

Kaleo Paik and one of her grandchildren submitting opposition testimony

Kaleo Paik and one of her grandchildren submitting opposition testimony

Over 110 people sent in opposition testimony. In comparison,  supporting testimony was about five. Supporters included Monsanto, Kaonoulu Ranch, the Department of Transportation, the Department of Land and Natural Resources and the Land Use Research Foundation. However, of those supporters, several (including DOT and LURF) thought the proposed amendment language was ambiguous.

Organizations submitting written testimony in opposition to the bill included: the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, Kauai Councilmember, Tim Bynum, Public Access Trails Hawaii, KAHEA, The Hawaiian-Environmental Alliance, the Ho’okipa Network (Kauai), Ala Kahakai Trail Association (Hawaii), Aha Moku, Kona Hawaiian Civic Club, Sierra Club of Hawaii, and Ahualoa Community Association.

We can’t rest yet. While the TIA Committee deferred action, SB 2728 is back up for another vote before the TIA on Tuesday, February 11, 2014, at 1:17 PM (read the agenda here).  It appeared that the Committee would revise the proposed amendment language. However, as of this date, we have not seen a revised bill.

Although no further testimony will be accepted, you can still help:

Thanks for your help. We will keep you informed as new information is available.

Share

It’s not too late to oppose Senate Bill 2728 proposing to amend the Highways Act of 1892

The seriousness of the proposed amendment to the Highways Act of 1892 cannot be underestimated.Seventeen of the twenty-five Hawaii senators introduced this bill. Nine of the twelve-member Transportation Committee are introducers of this amendment. Someone has been working behind the scenes to assure that this bill has a high likelihood of success. However, any careful review of Senate Bill 2728 shows that it is unconstitutional, and clearly harmful to the State as well as to the people’s basic rights.

PATH has submitted its testimony in opposition, and you can read it here. To read our earlier post providing the background of Senate Bill 2728, go here.

IT’S NOT TOO LATE TO HELP!

  • You can see if written testimony will still be accepted by going here.
  • You can testify in person at the committee hearing (location details here).
  • You can call or email any of the introducers of the Senate Bill 2728, including those serving your district. PATH has prepared a spreadsheet with their phone numbers and emails, which can be accessed here.
  • You can call or email any of the members of the Transportation Committee, including those serving your district. Emails and phone numbers can be accessed from here.
PATH appreciates you helping out on this important issue!
Share

PATH’s written testimony to Transportation Committee in opposition to Senate Bill 2728

Please click here to read PATH’s opposition to the poorly conceived amendment to the Highways Act of 1892. Portions of the letter are also posted below.

Please do not pass Senate Bill 2728 out of the Committee on Transportation and International Affairs (TIA). The proposed amendment is unconstitutional, ambiguous and essentially throws into question 122 years of law and settled jurisprudence that protects Hawai‘i’s unique and culturally important historic trails and roads. As explained below, there are abundant reasons to reject this proposed amendment. Continue reading

Share