POSTED: 09 January 2005 - 2:00pm HST

Decision on Kokee Master Plan, Jan 13th and 14th

The rooster and the mountain at sunset

A State Park Perspective
Our Board of Land and Natural Resources is about to make several decisions about the use of more than 9,000 acres of Aina on Kaua`i.  These decisions are supposed to set a new course for the direction of our State Parks for the next twenty years, however, the planning document that makes recommendations to the Board is not yet complete or reliable. My evidence for saying this is as follows:

To the Board of Land and Natural Resources:

1. Twenty Years is too short a time frame
The Master Plan document presented to the public from the DLNR presents a twenty year time frame for proposed changes. Twenty years is not a long enough. When I first moved to Kaua`i from growing up days on O’ahu I had the honor to meet Mr. Joseph Souza,  Hawaii’s first State Park Superintendent.  He passed away shortly after I began to work at Koke`e Museum, but one thing I remember him saying was "With Parks you have to Look Ahead not ten, not twenty, but Fifty Years".   

Over the years of my work in the parks as an interpreter for visitors and a storyteller for young people, I have seen how both natural and man made change occurs impacting in both positive and negative ways on the environment.  I have learned that Mr. Souza was right. The impact of our decisions must be imagined fifty years or more into the future, there fore our kupuna and their wisdom must be our highest source of recommendation for change. I’m sure my kupuna would say "take your time" with these decisions and look closer at what you are going to be bringing about.

2. ‘Held in Trust’ not ‘Owned’
Early in the DLNR planning document it states that these park lands are "owned" by the State of Hawaii. The word "Owned" implies purchased, paid for, and possessed to make a profit for the owner(s).  When I read the business plan section, which is part of the planning document, I knew that the Land Managers in State Government were thinking of how to create higher profits from their land use decision making.

To "Hold in Trust" means that we rely upon our hired government employees to fulfill their obligation of providing guardianship for the integrity of "Our Aina". Guardianship does not imply profit taking. It implies stewardship. The enjoyment of these lands for future generations relies upon our public servants being good caretakers and learned interpreters of the cultural landscape of these upland forests. It becomes apparent, when you read the planning document, and see the obvious "for profit" motive in the recommendations, that decisions to be made about our Park lands are being made by officials high up in Government, people not living or working on Kaua`i.

3. Decision Making Flawed
Decision making in a Democracy is a ‘Team Sport’ not a ‘Spectator Sport’, yet I doubt that many current Park workers, land managers, hunters, visiting school groups, or regular visitors feel that they are on a winning team when it comes to these land use recommendations or that there interests are being represented fairly.  No one doubts the need for Park improvement, but why does this process have to deny us all the experience of a sense of justice and equitable resolve?

In conclusion I challenge the members of the Board of Land and Natural Resources to realize that their planning document is incomplete and not ready for any decisions to be made regarding State Park land use.  Everyone who is involved needs more time (years) to consider what is at stake in decisions of this magnitude. I don’t want to think that our public servants are going to rubber stamp a "done deal" at this Thursday and Friday’s  BLNR meetings, but rather create a sense of justice and equitable resolve at the meeting with regards to the wishes of the citizens of our Island, and if they are so fearless as to ignore the overwhelming public viewpoint that is opposed to constructing a gate for entry into the parks, I recommend that they ask us simply for a "donation" rather than a set fee to prove the credibility of their on-going good works to improve the area.

Mark Jeffers - Hanapepe



Island Breath Editor's Note

The letter above was submitted on January 8thby Mark Jeffers, Executive Director of the Storybook Theatre, to Chris Cook, Editor of the Garden Island News. At this time we do not know if this letter will be published.

It may be that Mark's goal of delaying the decision on the Draft Master Plan is the best strategy for us in the immediate future. Certainly, there is a real possibility that when faced with an "up-or-down" on the plan board members will ignore the bad aspects of the plan and simply "go-along" and vote for the total plan.

Ron Agar is an architect and and a new BLNR board member. He is the sole Kauai resident on the board and it is our hope he will stand up for Kauai residents and vote against this plan. Maybe others on the board would be affected if Ron expressed his opposition to significant details of the Kokee master plan.

We have designed a poster announcing the BLNR meetings with the headline "FREE NO MORE - KOKEE PARK". If you want to put this poster up in your neighborhood we have a PDF file (1.4meg) that prints up as a 8.5"x11" flyer. Click here to download.

see also:
Island Breath: Kokee Plan 2
Island Breath: Kokee Plan 1

More Details

For more details about the upcoming January 13th BLNR Briefing (5pm) and January 14th BLNR Decision Meeting (9am) at the Lihue War Memorial Convention Hall contact:

Juan Wilson (808) 335-0733 Hanapepe resident

Lauren Tanaka (808) 587-0293 Division of State Parks