$4M Donation made to save the Alakoko "Menehune" Fishpond

Jim Karlovsky

The $4 million charitable gift was made possible with the support from the Chan Zuckerberg Kaua‘i Community Fund of the Hawai‘i Community Foundation.

The Trust for Public Land negotiated the acquisition, led fundraising, and purchased the property in November 2021 and then conveyed it to Mālama Hulē‘ia for community and cultural stewardship. 
Malama Hule‘ia has acted as a steward of the land since 2018, with help from the community. Over 26 acres of invasive mangrove were cleared to restore the 600-year-old watershed while under a 20-year lease agreement of the land. 

This Native Hawaiian fishpond system is adjacent to the Hule‘ia National Wildlife Refuge supporting native fish, endangered water birds, limu, and vegetation. Mālama Hulē‘ia will continue their environmental stewardship programs honoring Hawaiian values. Alakoko Fishpond will continue to be used as an outdoor learning space for students to learn the science of native ecosystems, traditional fishponds, environmental restoration, and Hawaiian cultural traditions.

Mālama Hulē‘ia is a community-based nonprofit with a mission to advocate, educate, and lead community efforts to remove mangrove along the Hulē‘ia River, reestablish native wetland ecosystems and create environmental stewardship programs honoring Hawaiian values. For four years, Mālama Hulē‘ia, in partnership with the community, has been restoring the fishpond and its surrounding native wetland and estuary.

Alakoko Fishpond was put up for sale in early 2021 for $3 million. More than 5,500 people signed online statements and wrote testimonies requesting the commission and county make a move to purchase the land with special funds. The County's Open Space reserve would have been nearly depleted if they went that route. Thankfully the private donation fully funded the acquisition. Now the County Open Space Commission and County Council are able to fund the protection of many other incredible ancestral places on Kauai.

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