HONOLULU, Dec. 11, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A partnership of public agencies and non-profit organizations today announced the purchase of more than 1,700 acres of land from the estate of George Galbraith on Oahu, protecting it for farming rather than development.
The land, near Wahiawa northwest of Honolulu, has been fallow since 2004, when Del Monte ceased growing pineapple there.
George Galbraith, a native of Ireland, moved to Hawaii in the late 1800s, and died in 1904. The Bank of Hawaii had most recently managed the estate. As described in the 2011 movie, "The Descendants," state law required the estate to dissolve because of a rule against perpetuities.
There are hundreds of beneficiaries spread around the world, including Hawaii, Canada, Ireland, and the U.S. mainland.
The Trust for Public Land, a non-profit land conservation organization, paid $25 million to buy 1,732 acres from the Galbraith estate and has now sold it to two state agencies. More than 1,200 acres went to the state Agribusiness Development Corporation (ADC), with the Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA) buying the rest.
Studies show the state imports about 85% of its food, and they estimate Hawaii could begin to run out of food in as little as two weeks, should a natural disaster interrupt shipments.
"The purchase and protection of the Galbraith land for agricultural uses is game-changing for Hawaii," said Gov. Neil Abercrombie. "This will allow us to reduce our reliance on food imports and increase our food security—an important part of my New Day Initiative. Preserving agricultural land and producing our own food benefits us as a society."
Lea Hong, Hawaiian Director of The Trust for Public Land, said, "I grew up in Wahiawa and my family still lives there. Wahiawa is said to be a place of noise, a gateway to the North Shore where Pele's sister Hiiaka saw the ocean crashing against the coast and heard the resounding waves. Thanks to the partnership of many individuals and organizations, this gateway will remain undeveloped for future generations."
Helen Lind, the mother of blogger/journalist Ian Lind, is one of the Galbraith beneficiaries. He said, "My mother, at 98, has waited a long time to see this trust dissolved and its assets distributed to the beneficiaries. And she is particularly pleased that this land sale is a win-win deal. Beneficiaries will benefit from the proceeds of the sale, and all the people of Hawaii will benefit from keeping the land in agriculture and protecting it from developers."
ADC Executive Director James Nakatani said, "We are looking forward to begin preparing the land and installing necessary infrastructure. Our plan is to provide both large and small farming operations with long-term licenses."
Russell S. Kokubun, Chair of the Hawaii Board of Agriculture, said, "This is a truly landmark accomplishment—proactively saving high-quality agricultural land for farming—land that seemed destined for the next large development."
The Trust for Public Land assembled the $25 million purchase price from a variety of sources, including $13 million from a Hawaii state bond; $4.5 million from the U.S. Army; $4 million from the City and County of Honolulu; $3 million from the Office of Hawaiian Affairs; and $500,000 from D.R. Horton-Schuler Division.
The U.S. Army money came from the Pentagon's Readiness and Environmental Protection Initiative (REPI), which protects land around military bases. The land neighbors the Schofield Barracks.
"The Army is proud to have contributed to the purchase of adjacent lands that will add to Hawaii's future food security, while at the same time, continuing Schofield Barracks' critical mission of training our Soldiers with the skills necessary to deploy and return home safely," said Col. Daniel W. Whitney, commander, U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii.
The City and County of Honolulu money came from a fund approved by voters in 2006. "I am proud the City and County of Honolulu contributed to this important project. There is an ever more pressing need to ensure that Hawaii can grow more of its own food, and diversify its economy," said Mayor Peter Carlisle. "The Galbraith lands are an important step in the right direction."
D.R. Horton-Schuler Division contributed $500,000 and will be providing another $500,000 to help prepare it for farming. "Over the years, we have listened to many community members express their desire to promote farming and support local farmers," said Mike Jones, president of D.R. Horton-Schuler Division. "As we work towards building sustainable lifestyles in Hawaii, we are proud to join in this partnership to advance food security, preserve agriculture land outside the urban growth boundary, and support our farmers."
Founded in 1972, The Trust for Public Land is the leading nonprofit working to conserve land for people. Operating from more than 30 offices nationwide, The Trust for Public Land has protected more than three million acres from the inner city to the wilderness and helped generate more than $34 billion in public funds for conservation. Nearly ten million people live within a ten-minute walk of a Trust for Public Land park, garden, or natural area, and millions more visit these sites every year. Learn more at tpl.org (http://www.tpl.org/).
SOURCE The Trust For Public Land