6/16/2015 Honolulu Star-Advertiser’s Editorial: Act now to open Haleakala Trail

Friends, please read today’s Star-Advertiser editorial (below) about DLNR’s failure to act after PATH won ownership of Haleakala Trail, especially the Star’s concluding paragraph:

“From mauka to makai, Hawaii’s people deserve broad access to public lands. The DLNR should devote more resources to opening up the Haleakala Trail, and not squander the momentum of this noteworthy case.”

Do you agree? If so, let us know, and stand by for other ways you can help get DLNR to do the right thing — return true public access to Haleakala Trail.

Act now to open Haleakala Trail
• Honolulu Star-Advertiser
• June 16, 2015

It is distressing that the state Department of Land and Natural Resources has no timeline for reopening the historic Haleakala Trail for unguided hikes, despite a court ruling last year against the private landowner that had wrongly claimed the traditional public route as its own and the tentative settlement of a class-action lawsuit.

Continue reading


Important Notice of Class Action Settlement Regarding Haleakala Trail and June 24 Hearing

guidepost haleakala trailAloha friends and supporters of Haleakala Trail. In April 2014, a jury determined that Haleakala Trail is and has always been a public trail, and that the trail is owned by the State of Hawai`i. After the jury trial, PATH has worked on settlement of remaining matters involving Haleakala Ranch Company. PATH is happy to report that settlement with Haleakala Ranch Company has been reached! Pursuant to the terms of the settlement (preliminarily approved by the court pending notice to the class members), Haleakala Ranch Company cannot appeal the ruling that Haleakala Trail is a public trail  owned by the State under the Highways Act, and it also cannot reverse public ownership of Haleakala Trail through a land exchange with the State, which was threatened earlier through a highly contested administrative proceeding.

This preliminary settlement is subject to an opportunity for all of the members of the class action to review the settlement terms. The class members are: All pedestrians who, as members of the public, have been, or continue to be, denied access to Haleakala Trail.” 

Please carefully read the Notice of Class Action Settlement Regarding Haleakala Trail, which explains your rights. This notice also establishes a June 17, 2015 deadline for written submissions to the court, and sets a final hearing to confirm the preliminary settlement. This hearing is scheduled for June 24, 2014, at 9:30 a.m., in Courtroom 3 in the Hawai`i Second Circuit Court, Wailuku, Maui, Hawai`i.  Here is a link to the map, which is attached to this Notice, showing the location of Haleakala Trail (click it to enlarge):

Exh 1 Map

Please note: the current settlement does not include issues relating to returning public access to Haleakala Trail. That issue will be negotiated between PATH and the State of Hawai`i after settlement with Haleakala Ranch Company is confirmed.

Please share this notice with others.

More Information:

Go here to review motions and other court documents relating to the motion for approval of the settlement on behalf of the class members, as well as to review other relevant court documents.

You can also view Power Point slides (exhibits) that the jury considered during the March-April 2014 trial. Here are some quick examples of the exhibits included in the links below:

Exhibits relating to circa 1800 to 1900 (early history of Haleakala Trail and improvements to Haleakala Trail by Kingdom of Hawaii)
Exhibits relating to circa 1900 to 1905 (Territory of Hawaii improvement of Haleakala Trail)
Exhibits relating to circa 1905 to 1970 (continued public use of Haleakala Trail after Territorial improvements)

If you haven’t seen it, check out our video of Haleakala Trail, published prior to the trial. This video explains some of the the trail’s amazing history:

Here is a high definition video that was shown to the jury during the trial. The video shows the trail at around 6,000′ elevation and highlights the amazing scenery that awaits future hikers. You can also see the guide posts and rock cairns installed by the Territory of Hawaii in 1905.

PATH is a 501(c)(3) Hawai`i nonprofit that continues to need funding to carry out matters relating to Haleakala Trail, as well as to be engaged in other public access issues. Please celebrate our significant victory for the people of Hawaii by making a charitable donation to PATH today.



Some Haleakala Trail guideposts that guided the way for thousands

Some Haleakala Trail guideposts that guided the way for thousands

On Wednesday, after a long fourteen day jury trial before Judge Cardoza in the Maui Circuit Court, a jury returned a verdict in favor of the State of Hawai‘i (State) and plaintiffs Public Access Trails Hawai‘i (PATH), David Brown, Ken Schmitt, and Joe Bertram III, who are the lead plaintiffs in a class action on behalf of all pedestrians in Hawai‘i. The jury found that the State owns—and has always owned—the historic Haleakala Trail. The jury also dismissed Defendant Haleakala Ranch Company (HRC)’s competing claim to ownership of Haleakala Trail, which the State and plaintiffs have long alleged was based on no evidence or law.

David Brown, executive director of PATH and one of the lead plaintiffs in the case, said that the jury verdict was “monumental and ground-breaking.” “The court victory today should be celebrated by anyone who wants to recognize, preserve and protect Hawai‘i’s unique and rich cultural past, including Hawai‘i’s historical trails,” Brown explained. Ken Schmitt, another lead plaintiff, added that although Hawai‘i has many laws that protect the public’s interest in Hawai‘i’s historic trails, including the Highways Act of 1892, which places trails in the public trust, the political reality in Hawai‘i is that trails are often neglected and ignored. Schmitt reiterated the importance that this jury verdict had, and in particular applauded the State’s active role in defeating dubious claims of ownership to historical Hawaiian trails.

At trial, the State and plaintiffs presented evidence showing public use and government ownership of Haleakala Trail, including documents from the Hawai‘i State archives, government maps, newspapers, legislative journals, and travel narratives including those from Mark Twain, Jack London and Isabella Bird. There was also expert testimony from Anthony Crook, a professional surveyor, Doris Moana Rowland, the Na Ala Hele State title abstractor, and Richard Stevens, Ph.D., a world historian and expert trail researcher.

Brown said that the jury really connected with the story that the State and plaintiffs presented at trial. The evidence at trial demonstrated that Haleakala Trail was a continuation of a long-established native Hawaiian trail, which connected to an overland pass across East Maui through Haleakala Crater. Westerners began ascending Haleakala Trail long before the Mahele of 1848. Later, the government significantly improved Haleakala Trail through two major public work projects, by the Kingdom of Hawai‘i in 1889 and by the Territory of Hawai‘i in 1905. In 1905, a Maui News article celebrated the improvements to Haleakala Trail, trumpeting that: “It will be of general interest to the people of the Islands to learn that the Haleakala trail is now completed to the top of the crater… Come one; come all: and view this the grandest sight of Maui.” Also, in 1905, guideposts were placed along the trail at approximately every 500 feet. Schmitt explained that many of these guideposts still stand today and were crucial pieces of evidence for the jury to consider.
Brown said that the next and final phase of the trial will determine the issues remaining in the case—namely historic preservation of Haleakala Trail and securing meaningful public access. Emphasizing the importance of this final phase of trial, Brown explained, “We have a moral obligation to protect Hawai‘i’s past, including its rich history of trails. The longer we wait to protect Hawai‘i’s cultural legacy, the greater the risk it will be lost forever for generations to come.”

PATH is a 501(c)(3) public charity. Its mission is “building community ties by connecting people and places through trails, urban paths and bikeways.” PATH’s website is pathmaui.org, and the organization also maintains Facebook and Twitter accounts. At trial, PATH was represented by attorneys Tom Pierce, Peter Martin and Hayden Aluli.

PATH is requesting continued financial support from the public to protect the historic Haleakala Trail, as well as general supporters and members. Charitable donations are fully tax-deductible and may be made to 2525 Kahekili Highway, Wailuku, Hawai‘i 96793. To contact the organization, send an email to pathmaui@gmail.com.


Haleakala Trail case is now with the jury

Aloha friends,

The jury heard closing arguments yesterday. The jury is now in deliberations. Read about it in the Maui News 4/23/2014 edition, here.


Closing arguments scheduled for Tuesday in Haleakala Trail case

IMG_2874 (768x1024)

Aloha Friends!

After three more days of testimony this week, all the parties rested their cases.  The jury has now had a chance to hear in detail about Haleakala Trail’s rich history.

Judge Cardoza will read instructions to the jury and hear closing arguments starting at 10:00 a.m. on Tuesday, April 22, 2014, on the fourth floor of the State courthouse in Wailuku. The trial is open to the public. After closing arguments, the jury will begin its deliberations.

Your charitable donation to help PATH save Haleakala Trail would be greatly appreciated! 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.


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.


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.)


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.


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.


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.