‘Opelu Point protected as conservation land

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Opelu Point Kipahulu
‘Opelu Point in Kipahulu is shown. The 9.5-acre property was acquired by a local nonprofit and will be placed in conservation in perpetuity. MATT YAMASHITA

The Maui News 

Nov. 4, 2022

Kipahulu ‘Ohana Inc. has acquired a 9.5-acre coastal property known as ‘Opelu Point in Kipahulu.

The parcel will be protected as conservation land in perpetuity, in partnership with the County of Maui and the Hawai’i Land Trust, according to a news release from the county on Thursday.

Mayor Michael Victorino and the Office of Climate Change, Resiliency and Sustainability awarded a grant of $2.5 million from the Open Space, Natural Resources, Cultural Resources and Scenic Views Preservation Fund to Kipahulu ‘Ohana for the acquisition of ‘Opelu Point.

The property is located toward the western end of Kipahulu overlooking Lelekea Bay. It’s an important location for managing the proposed Kipahulu Moku Community-Based Subsistence Fishing Area, the news release said. Lelekea Bay is a traditional spot for harvesting akule (big-eyed scad), but the area is showing negative effects of unmanaged recreational use.

‘Opelu Point is adjacent to a 9-acre parcel managed by Kipahulu ‘Ohana through a state lease. It will expand the organization’s existing cultural, agricultural and shoreline programs to encompass both properties.

“This is a dream come true for us,” said Auntie Tweetie Lind, co-founder and program manager for Kipahulu ‘Ohana. ” ‘Opelu Point is a very special spot, and we are honored to be the stewards of this wahi pana (significant place). It will be part of our overall moku management programs, mauka to makai. ‘Opelu Point provides a place to teach current and future generations about Kipahulu’s traditional methods to manage the fishery for collective abundance. We’re excited for the agricultural and shoreline management activities we are planning for ‘Opelu Point.”

Victorino thanked the organizations and the Maui County Council for approving the acquisition.

The ‘Opelu Point conservation easement marks the land trust’s 50th conservation easement. The trust will monitor the property in perpetuity to guarantee conservation easement restrictions are followed.

“Hawai’i Land Trust is honored and humbled to partner with Kipahulu ‘Ohana and the County of Maui to ensure ‘Opelu Point will serve as a food basket for Kipahulu families, and the greater community, forever,” said Shae Kamaka’ala, director of ‘aina protection for the Hawai’i Land Trust. ” ‘Opelu Point is back in the hands of those who hold lineal kuleana to care for this place. We have confidence that permanent protection of these lands will truly serve and build resilient communities for generations to come.”