Townscape, Inc

Kāwā Resources Management Plan

Completed 2017

Townscape worked with the County of Hawaiʻi Finance Department to develop a resources management plan for approximately 785 acres of undeveloped, coastal lands located within the ahupuaʻa of Kaʻalāiki, Hīlea Nui, and Hīlea Iki. The County acquired these lands by using funds from the Public Access, Open Space, and Natural Resources Preservation Commission program and by leveraging funds from state and federal sources.

Management plan developed with Kaʻū community members to protect this special place for future generations.

Kāwā is a treasured wahi pana, not only for the people of Ka‘ū, but also for residents from other regions of Hawai‘i Island. At Kāwā, one will find the picturesque Kāwā Bay that serves as a popular surfing spot for Kaʻū residents; fresh water springs that feed an estuary that once served as a fishpond; Hīlea Stream, one of the largest intact heiau in the region; and numerous Hawaiian cultural sites that provide a glimpse into what was once home to generations of Hawaiian families. This historically and culturally rich place is also home to a diversity of native plants and animals, including a number of threatened and endangered species.

Kāwā Bay serves as a popular surfing spot for Kaʻū residents and important habitat for threatened and endangered species such as Hawaiian monk seals, hawksbill sea turtles and green sea turtles.

The resources management plan describes the cultural heritage and natural resources of Kāwā; outlines specific management actions to ensure resources within the County’s property are properly cared for, including habitat for native, threatened, and endangered plants and animals; and discusses a management approach for Kāwā.

Four parcels in Kāwā acquired by the County of Hawaiʻi for protection because of its outstanding natural and cultural resources.

Townscape conducted extensive community outreach as part of the planning process, including “talk story” sessions and site visits with community members knowledgeable about the place. Community members included kūpuna, lineal and cultural descendants, community organizations, fisherfolks, surfers, educators, scientists and professional experts. Townscape also met with key agencies and organizations involved in the management of natural and cultural resources at Kāwā.

A summary of recommended actions to protect and preserve resources at Kāwā.