Listen to Noe Tanigawa's Story


January 9, 2007

Aloha, everyone! Please kökua if you can. We need written and/or oral testimony supporting the permanent protection of approx. 6 acres of sinkholes at Kalaeloa (Barber’s Point).

The Estate of James Campbell and its developer, Kapolei Property Development, LLC, have petitioned the LUC to reclassify nearly 350 acres in Campbell Industrial Park from Agriculture to Urban, in order to develop the Kapolei Harborside Center – a mix of commercial and industrial development. The LUC docket number is A06-763. The entire petition and amended petition can be found at under Pending Petitions.

We need to show strong public support for protecting the sinkholes in perpetuity by generating written and oral testimony to the LUC. All written and oral testimony will be part of the record and considered by the LUC.

Please send written testimony to the LUC no later than Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Mail: Land Use Commission
Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism
P.O. Box 2359
Honolulu, Hawai’i 96804-2359
Fax: (808) 587-3827
Phone: (808) 587-3822

The LUC will also take oral testimony from the public on Thursday, February 1, 2007, 10 am in Room 204 of the State Office Tower (Leiopapa A Kamehameha Building) at 235 South Beretania Street, Honolulu, HI 96813. Please come and testify if you can!

Please include the Recommendations below in your testimony to the LUC. Email a copy of your testimony to the Conservation Council for Hawai’i at Forward this message to others. For more information, contact me at CCH in Honolulu: 593-0255 or

E ho’omau! Mahalo nui loa for your kökua!

Recommendations to the LUC (to include in your testimony)

* Require the Estate to donate the proposed 6-acre sinkhole preserve to the State of Hawai‘i so that it qualifies for inclusion in the state Natural Area Reserves System. The Estate will benefit financially from the development of nearly 350 acres in the area. Donating the proposed 6-acre preserve to the state would help ensure adequate protection of this special site.

* Amend the state land use classification for the proposed sinkhole preserve from Agriculture to Conservation to help protect this land from future development.

* Replace the existing fence around the sinkholes with a stronger new fence. Include the wet sinkhole and any other sinkholes that are nearby and currently outside the existing fenced area. Clearly mark the existing and any new fence. Brief construction crews about protecting the sinkhole preserve during any construction or modification of the adjacent land.

* Establish a permanent or revolving fund to cover the costs of regular fence maintenance, fence replacement in the future, and educational interpretive displays.

* Continue working with the interested public, citizen organizations, scientific community, and government agencies to ensure the long-term protection of proposed sinkhole preserve.

* Include the above recommendations as a condition of any amendment to the state land use boundary for the project area.

Background and Additional Talking Points

* Commend the landowner and developer for proposing to protect the ‘sinkholes. Future generations will be able to learn about this significant site, which is eligible for inclusion on the Hawai’i Register of Historic Places.

* These sinkholes are part of a coral reef formed about 120,000 years ago when sea level was higher. Today, this area consists of weathered karst (limestone substrate) dotted with sinkholes formed by chemical weathering by rain.

* There used to be thousands of sinkholes on the raised reef from Wai’anae to Barber’s Point, but 99 percent of them have been lost to agriculture, development, and deliberate destruction. The sinkholes are rare. The story they tell is almost too bizarre to be true!

* Unique and extinct Hawaiian bird bones and Hawaiian land snail shells have been found in the sinkholes. Extinct birds found at the Kalaeloa sinkholes include the moa nalo (a large flightless goose-like duck), geese, two species of crow, a long-legged owl, a hawk, a sea eagle, gapers, flightless rails, a small petrel, and new Hawaiian honeycreepers. These birds are known only from the archaeological record, having gone extinct before 1778. They were unknown to science until their discovery beginning in the 1970s.

* Many of these birds have been described and named by renowned avian paleontologists, Storrs Olson and Helen James, of the Smithsonian Institution. Birds found in the sinkholes have been described recently by Dr. James and her students at the Smithsonian, which could provide clues to even more fascinating Hawaiian birds of our past.

* Bones of birds still found elsewhere in Hawai’i today were also found in the Barber’s Point sinkholes, including the palila (an endangered forest bird now restricted to Mauna Kea) and the dark-rumped petrel or ‘ua‘u (an endangered seabird no longer found on O’ahu).

* Evidence of the Native Hawaiian culture is present in the area, and ‘öpae ‘ula (tiny native red shrimp) also have been found in brackish water in at least one of the remaining sinkholes.

* Over the past 30 years, environmental, Native Hawaiian, and educational organizations have led educational field trips to the sinkholes. Hundreds of students, teachers, and others have learned about, and enjoyed visiting this fascinating area.


Conservation Council for Hawai‘i
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