Comments from 10/1/07 Community Meeting at Anna Ranch

The purpose of the meeting was to bring out ways in which community members use the currently use the trail.  Councilman Yagong was to have attended, but was ill.  Councilman Hoffman was present for the entire meeting.

The first speaker was Matt Pierce.  He said:
1.  He walks his dogs on the trail.  It is a way for him to enjoy the feeling of Old Hawaii.  He used to enjoy riding mountain bikes on the trail.  Being on the trail is a way to relax.  It’s a place to go where you can be in nature without trespassing.  The trail embodies the Soul of Old Hawaii.

The second speaker was Carol Henricks.
2.  For her the trail holds many family memories.  They have held celebrations on Mud Lane.  It is an easy trail to walk.  It is not a long trail.  The trees are beautiful.  There should not be through-traffic.  This is a trail that is accessible to the public.  We need this trail, as well as the Nature Park in town, so that the public has access to open space and natural areas.

The third speaker was Marrisa Nakano.  She read from her notes, and we do not have a record at this time.  I will post it as soon as I get a copy.

The fourth speaker was Karen Nakano.
4.  Mud Lane is now dangerous (since the paving).  Her family used to go to Mud Lane for guava, fresh air.  They like the old oven at the bottom of the trail.  They ride 4-wheelers as a family, and being on the trail brought them together as a family.  They do not ramble, are not destructive, but can get to beautiful places on their 4-wheelers. Being on the beautiful trail was a stress-reliever.  It is important to preserve natural places and keep them open to the public.  It important to keep public places that are away from traffic.

The fifth speaker was Larry Johnson.
5.  The trail is beautiful.  It should be open for quads, motorcycles, bikers and hikers.  It should be a trail, not a highway.  If it becomes a through road, they will have to widen it to make it safe, and then they will have to cut down the trees.  The trees make Mud Lane one of the most beautiful places on earth.  In Wisconsin and Minnesota, they have an extensive trail system created on old railway right of ways.  The program is called “Rails to Trails” and you can read about it online.  Some people fought the idea initially, but is has generated an economic boost for the areas it covers and has become very popular.

The sixth speaker was Padma Wallace.
6.  Every trail on the Big Island has been mapped.  All the maps are at the Bond Library.  The Mud Lane trail is pre-historic.  Listen to the stories of the Hawaiians.  This area is the piko of the whole Island.  When you’re on the trail, you enter another time zone.  There is tremendous mana, it is a very spiritual experience.  This was the route taken by the taro farmer of Waipio to carry their taro to Kona.  It has value because it allows us to connect to what came before.  It is a safe place, and it is one of the last trails.

The seventh speaker was John Buck.
7.  Has been traveling the trail for many years, has never seen anyone else on it until the last 6 months or so.  Has used the trail to get to the rim of Waipio.  The bigger issue is how to preserve it.  If we do nothing, it will be lost.  Do not turn it over to the Nature Conservancy, because they will exclude the public.  The trail is similar to the White Road trail.  We needa trail around the Island.

The eight speaker was Ben Discoe.
8.  He drew a map of the area, which is too large for me to reproduce.  He said that there are other rights of way that the Waimea 660  LLC could utilize to create a road joining Mamalahoa Hwy a little further East.

The ninth speaker was Gillian Culff.
9.  Her family does not have to drive far to get to the trail.  There aren’t that many laws about ancient trails.  The laws protect the landowners from being sued.  She took her son to the Mud Lane trail when he was a toddler.  It was very educational.  They hiked the trail as a family.  The White Road trail was important.  We need a law to ensure public access to trails.

The tenth speaker was Gillian’s 12 year old son, Kieran Najita.
He is a tree hugger, and proud of it.  The people have been cutting down the trees.  This is the last straw.  He’s not going to let them do it.  He also objected to the closing of the White Road trail.

Pete Hoffman then made the following comments:
The best opportunity to prevent destruction of the trail was at the time the land was sold.
He would be happy to support a resolution by Councilman Yagong calling for the preservation of the trail.  He needs to be careful about the Sunshine law.  We should come up with an access plan and form a non-profit   If a non-profit were formed to promote preserving Mud Lane as a trail, as well as creation of trail network, County Council members could contribute discretionary funds.

Padma then responded that creating a non-profit takes time, and the danger to the trail appears to be imminent.  Pete responded by pointing out that a non-profit at the State level can be created in a matter of days, and the IRS status can be obtained in about 4 months.
The preservation of the Mud Lane trail could be included in the Community Development Plan process-can add area to the Waimea CDP or can simply mention in plan
The Community Development Plan boundaries are not the same as the judicial districts
Hamakua may not get a Community Development Plan of its own.

John Buck said that a piece meal approach to trail network, by Council District, won’t work.
Pete responded by saying that the next mayor might allocate resources to creation of a trail network.

Jan Cole then mentioned that the Rails to Trails group has consultants who can help with trail creation, and they have big money sponsors.
Kieran Najita then asked if the White Road trail was in Pete’s district.  Pete responded that it was the eastern border of this District.  Kieran then asked if Pete could help with the re-opening of the White Road trail, and Pete responded that the trail was closed by the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands, not the County.

Margaret Willie, an attorney, was the last speaker.  She said the different goals of this group need to be clarified and separated: protecting the ancient trial located in the 50 foot by half mile corridor, determining whether there are any cultural or historic sites on the 660 acres that should be protected, protection of the tree canopy along the paved part of Mud Lane, and then the bigger picture concerns of how this trial fits into a greater trail system and the question of a possible highway from Mud Lane to Kukuihaele.

She stressed that the immediate objective must be the preservation of the ancient trail within the 50 foot wide corridor at the base of Mud Lane that is now being threatened by the 660 acre lot owners’ planned 18 foot wide road.

She also pointed out that the County process for protecting historic sites has clearly has not worked as it should have in the processing of the development approvals for the proposed 660 acre parcel.  The existence of that ancient trail is obvious to anyone who looks for it.  This concern should be addressed before there is final subdivision approval of the 660 acre parcel.

She also commented about the concerns that were raised that there is no framework in the Hamakua district to work on protecting cultural sites and creating a trail system through Hamakua, because there is no Community Development Planning Process in this district (in contrast to the on-going Community Development Plan process  for South Kohala).

She explained that there is already in place the legal framework for this community activity; for example in the County General Plan’s section on Historic Sites. That County Plan already calls for the County to work with the Hamakua communities to protect historic sites and resources and create Heritage Corridors—which could include a trail corridor. The County General Plan specifically states that the required Course of Action for the Hamakua District on the topic of “Historic Sites” provides: “Coordinate with the community to identify historic sites and buildings for inclusion in a heritage corridor program.”  The County General Plan, she explained, is law, and all subdivisions must be consistent with the requirements of that General Plan. As everyone who has been there has pointed out, the original consultant’s determination that no trail exists in this location was clearly erroneous. There is definitely a stone trail, rather than eroded bedrock as the initial report concluded.   She mentioned that it appears that Waipio Valley chiefs such as Umi used the Mud Lane trail to exit Waipio Valley and therefore this trail was of great importance back then, perhaps as early as the 13th   century.

She agreed with the other speakers that there is a special feeling at this location, where one walks on the same stone trail as was used by early residents of Waipio Valley.  She noted that the developer of the 660 acre lot does not yet have final subdivision approval and tentative subdivision approval may be revised because of the need to protect this ancient trailway.  She believes an environmental assessment is also required by law.  She recommends that the first goal of the trail issue that the community must address is the preservation of this ancient trail before the developer is allowed to proceed with using this corridor for access to the 660 parcel.