Updated: Apr 8, 2019
In July 2018 I traveled to the island of Molokai Hawaii for a site assessment of the newly available land of Molokai Ranch. For sale for the first time in decades. 57,000 acre of overgrazed, overstocked, and eroded land from 200 years of wandering cattle and unregulated Axis Deer.
Over 150 years ago the land was sold to corporate growers raising sugar cane, pineapple, and cattle; lost to the Molokai people. 1/3 of the island was fenced off excluding them from traditional land. At this time, the parcel is up for sale and available to the state, county, and Molokai people to reacquire for new homesteads, farming, and seriously-needed natural resource management. This is an opportunity that may not appear again for many generations. For a population to gain the use of its lost natural resources and double the liveable space for future generations would seemly be automatic acceptance of any terms, however, the state of the land needs to be considered and due diligence must be taken before making any deal. The current asking price is $5200 per acre, which includes many resources from previous development, but also many losses.
The south shore has many unused facilities that could be used for restoration training and administration. With a staggering amount of anthropocentric infrastructure, it is surprising how little management was applied to the natural landscape as it continued to degrade.
Acquisition of this property would require immediate attention to ecological restoration. This should be considered as an opportunity to improve the future of Molokai as an ecological model for the rest of the Hawaiian Islands. Degradation issues on Molokai are also present to varying degrees on all of the other islands, more often to a greater degree. For its size, Molokai has a large percentage of land base in a degraded state, but it also has a large tract that can provide the remaining resources for the restoration to a green and botanically diverse ecosystem. Design-driving goals and measurable outcomes will show long term benefits for the quality of life on the island and increase economic opportunity during and long after the restoration.
There are supporting systems to start the progression.
In the property of Molokai Ranch exists infrastructure to support the training camps and a college campus for research, development, and education. Although much of it is in disrepair, the baseline condition is usable with some forethought and progressive repurposing. Within Maunaloa, the closed resorts, and the three camps, exists structures to support the restoration efforts and at the same time are assets that can be used for immediate benefit.
Repairs will need to be made to the infrastructure, but the infrastructure exists and can be modified to serve larger purposes. The camps are the most immediate space that would support training and site restoration. Simple structures with multiple uses and access to the restoration sites. Paid staff support visiting restoration trainees and trainers.
In Support of the Island Restoration:
Ecologists, Botanists, Soil Scientists, Agronomists, Designers, Restoration Crew Leaders,
Intern Crew Support Teams
Remote Area Managers, Gulch Stewards, Data Plant Growth Facilities and Nurseries.
Data Loggers and Measurements
Website Manager, Communications, Records
Drone, Mapping & Documentation Team
Trades – Carpentry, Stone Builders, Loggers, Masons, Residential Installers
Soil Testing, Consulting, and Composting
Research Facilities, Fellowships,
Site Assessment and Data Collection Teams
Training Camps for visitors
Watershed Managers, Inspectors, Enforcement
Eco-Tourism Tours and Projects
Trail Managers, Hiking Tours, and Guides
Tour and Hunting Guides
Lodging, Camping, Remote Camp Sites
Road Maintenance and Managers
Fence Design, Installation, and Maintenance
Community Kitchen Facilities for Venison and Vegetable Processing, Packaging, Storing
Trail System Development, Maintenance & Management
Lodging, Transportation, Meals and Restaurants
Each elevation on the landscape will have potential long-term resources for the local people and through tourism, Ecological Training, and Services.
This expansion of uses does not harm the ecosystem and can create sustainable lifestyles for all on the island. Lifestyles of solitude or community engagement. All are legitimate and need.
Select areas are suited to homesteads. With land easements, owner covenants, and cultural practices as the guide for the Aloha Aina lifestyle, an ecologically sustained quality of life is modelled by participant association members. This is an opportunity to recreate a community reflective and improved for the sake of the land and long-term goals. Eventually the timber from established forests will sustain the building of homes and other woods products. At this time the community planning is outside the scope of this assessment and project