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Hawaii acquires 17-acres along Big Island coast

The state has acquired 17 acres of land along the Big Island’s North Kohala coast in an effort to preserve dozens of significant cultural sites and assist in marine habitat conservation efforts.

The $2.35 million purchase was the product of a public-private partnership of community organizations, nonprofit conservation groups and state and federal agencies, the Department of Land and Natural Resources announced Friday.

Department director William Aila Jr. said the state has long coveted the property, located at the southern end of Lapakani State Historical Park. He described it as “a vital piece of a cultural and biological landscape.”

The parcel was under private ownership and slated for residential development until the Trust for Public Land, a national nonprofit based in San Francisco, negotiated a deal to purchase it.

Half of the money was provided through a competitive federal grant program run by the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration’s Coastal Estuarine Land Conservation Program. The other half was furnished by the state’s 6-year-old Land Conservation Fund.

The Trust for Public Land said the coastal property will protect and provide access to the adjacent Lapakani Marine Life Conservation District, home to more than 116 marine species.

Sen. Daniel Akaka called the land’s cultural sites “irreplaceable.”

“Generations to come will understand with even greater appreciation the commitment and foresight made here today to preserve these unique and valued coastal lands in perpetuity against competing development interests,” the Democratic U.S. senator said.

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