Category Archives: Haleakala Trail

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.


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.


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.


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


Help! Historic trails law in immediate jeopardy by proposed amendment to Highways Act of 1892

Friends, we need your help again. We need you to submit testimony by 1 pm today (Wednesday 2/5) opposing an amendment to the Highways Act of 1892 that is quickly making its way through the Hawaii legislature. The committee hearing is Thursday, February 6, 2014, at 1:15 p.m., at the State Capitol building, conference room 224. (See info below on how you can help right now.)

Remember Haleakala Ranch’s land exchange idea? Thanks to you and thousands of others, we prevailed over that bad idea. Unfortunately, we have a new problem. Large landowners, like Haleakala Ranch Company, are now wielding their substantial money and power to change the law!

Within the last two weeks, a number of Hawaii senators introduced a bill that purports to “clarify that the legislature has the authority to determine a public trail.” This innocuous title is entirely misleading. The bill, if passed, would almost certainly mean the end to any ancient trail ever being made public ever again. In short, the bill is a free ride for large landowners–many who purchased properties in the 1800s knowing that they were encumbered by public trails. If this bill were to pass, every large landowner can almost be assured that the trails have become their private domain forever.

liliu_as_queenOne of the last bills signed into law by Queen Liliuokalani before the overthrow of the Hawaiian Government was the Highways Act of 1892. It remains on the books today in the form of Hawai‘i Revised Statutes 264-1(b). Through the Highways Act, the legislature of the Kingdom of Hawai‘i declared that any trail or other thoroughfare open, laid out or built by the government, or surrendered or abandoned by a land owner, was a public trail and owned by the government in fee simple. The ownership stays with the government forever, or until a resolution expressly giving up the trail is passed by the legislature. Continue reading


Judge rules that Haleakala Trail trial will go forward in March

Haleakala Trail 12-15-13-037_berkowitzToday the court denied Haleakala Ranch Company’s request for a continuance of the jury trial. The trial date is set for March 17, 2014. The trial will determine the ownership of Haleakala Trail.

“We are ready for trial,” explained Brown.  “We have compiled a vast amount of historical evidence showing that the government controlled, owned, and developed the historic Haleakala Trail route for the benefit of the public. We believe the jury will agree.”

The Ranch had argued earlier to the court that it had a good chance of exchanging Haleakala Trail for an alternative access route, and therefore the trial should be continued since under that proposed deal, the State of Hawaii would convey its ownership in the trail to the Ranch. However, that all changed earlier this month when the Board of Land and Natural Resources refused to authorize its chairman to initiate settlement discussions with the Ranch.

Although the land exchange proposed by the Ranch would have permitted occasional guided hikes, PATH has objected to the logistically complex process of arranging a hike on the trail. “Haleakala Ranch Company has failed to offer the public with some form of meaningful access to this historic and beautiful trail,” explained Brown. “At this stage, we believe a trial is the only way to move forward to protect the public’s rights in the trail.”

PATH, Dave Brown, Ken Schmitt and Joe Bertram, III, filed a class action lawsuit in January 2011 against the Ranch and the State of Hawaii. The class action members are All pedestrians who, as members of the public, have been, or continue to be, denied access to Haleakala Trail.” In December 2012, the State of Hawaii joined forces with the plaintiffs, and also sued the Ranch to seek ownership of Haleakala Trail.  ”We have fought long and hard to get here,” explained Brown. “We’re ready to have the jury decide this case for the people of Hawaii.”


You spoke. The state listened. Haleakala Trail says mahalo!

guidepost haleakala trailThanks to your amazing support, we have achieved an important victory!

On Friday, January 10, 2013, the Board of Land and Natural Resources refused to permit its chairperson William Aila, to enter into preliminary settlement talks with Haleakala Ranch Company regarding a plan to exchange Haleakala Trail for a jeep road in Waiopai, providing access to an area that would likely not be available to the public for decades. Instead, the Board requested that the Department of Land and Natural Resources conduct an analysis to be done through an environmental assessment  (EA) and an archaeological inventory survey (AIS). (Two BLNR members had to recuse themselves from voting. These were Maui member James A. Gomes and member at large, Dr. Samuel M. Gon III.)

PATH is confident that once the EA and AIS have been completed (a process that will likely take a year or more), the information in those documents will easily convince state officials that the land exchange being proposed by Haleakala Ranch is bad idea and not in the public’s interest. Further, it is PATH’s position that cultural and historic properties owned by the State may never be conveyed in fee simple ownership (complete ownership) to private landowners under any set of circumstances. In other words, the proposed land exchange is legally impermissible.

PATH would like to thank the more than 2,300 people who signed PATH’s petition. (We will keep that petition going because the proposed land exchange at this time continues to be a something the State may consider after the EA and AIS are completed. If you haven’t done so yet, we ask you to add your name to that petition.)

PATH would also like to extend a special and heartfelt thanks to the many people who took away from their busy schedules to submit written and oral testimony. Passionate support for PATH’s position came not just from Maui, but also from people and organizations on the islands of Hawaii, Kauai, and Oahu. These testifiers made it clear that the State’s actions regarding Haleakala Trail were not an isolated event but would, instead, have a state-wide impact. Some of these people are suffering from similar situations on their own islands, where the State has been much too sympathetic to landowners’ arguments while turning a deaf ear to the people’s plea that these important cultural and historical trails be properly preserved and opened to the public.

For more information, check out the links below:


Haleakala Trail’s fate will be decided by BLNR on January 10

The Department of Land and Natural Resources has written a staff report recommending that the Board of Land and Natural Resources give its chairperson, William Aila, the ability to enter into a settlement agreement giving away Haleakala Trail for a trail on the leeward side of Maui. The staff report is filled with inaccuracies and downright misrepresentations of the facts. BLNR should not be making a decision until DLNR has generated sufficient information for the decision.

People have only a few days left to tell BLNR to REJECT DLNR’s proposed land exchange. HERE’S HOW YOU CAN HELP:

Haleakala Trail 12-15-13-037_berkowitz


State Historic Preservation Division recommends no transfer of Haleakala Trail at this time

The State Historic Preservation Division (SHPD) just weighed in on the proposed land exchange, in which Haleakala Trail would be given to Haleakala Ranch Company in exchange for an access easement in East Maui. SHPD stated, “Transfer of this historic property without the appropriate restrictions, covenants or conditions relating to its preservation will constitute an adverse effect.” SHPD concluded, “We recommend that no transfer occurs until the inventory survey and appropriate mitigation measures/covenants are completed.” [Read the SHPD memo here.]

At this time, the Board of Land and Natural Resources (BLNR) still plans to consider approval of the Haleakala Trail exchange in January 2014, even though SHPD has recommended against it.


Curbstone on Haleakala Trail that must be inventoried before any land exchange of Haleakala Trail

Curbstone on Haleakala Trail that must be inventoried before any land exchange of Haleakala Trail


Help save Haleakala Trail by signing our petition (over 1,000 and counting!)

 Click here to sign the petition:

Friends, in just five days the people have shown they won’t just stand by and let another private corporation pull a fast one. Even more, the people are sending a strong message to their State representatives that public land should remain public land and not be traded off to private corporations.

Click to sign the petition to save Haleakala Trail

Click to sign the petition to save Haleakala Trail

In just five days, our little grass roots petition has already resulted in over 1,000 people speaking out about the importance of public land, of respecting cultural and historical landmarks, of public access, and of increasing recreational opportunities.

We have less than one month to persuade the State of Hawaii to keep Haleakala Trail for the people, rather than give it to Haleakala Ranch Company.

Please help us turn this into a landslide of opposition. Help send a strong message that we are fed up with government officials caving in to large corporate landowner’s demands. Thanks for signing and sharing! Below you can find detailed information on the issues. Continue reading