JURY FINDS THAT THE STATE OWNS AND HAS ALWAYS OWNED THE HISTORIC HALEAKALA TRAIL

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.

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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.

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Closing arguments scheduled for Tuesday in Haleakala Trail case

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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.

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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.

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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.)

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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:

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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

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