Hawaii U.S. Reps. Ed Case and Tulsi Gabbard want to make Kaena Point on Oahu’s westernmost shore a National Heritage Area.

H.R. 6603 would study the potential for that official federal designation, which would be the first in the state. There are currently 55 National Heritage Areas nationwide, and Case said the designation could bring a lot of federal dollars to help conserve the area.

In a press release, Case said Kaena Point “is the perfect candidate” for a National Heritage Area and is “one of the last few remaining and easily accessible wilderness areas on Oahu.”

Laysan albatross smack their beaks together during their mating ritual at Kaena Point. Anthony Quintano/Civil Beat

Kaena Point is “the site of the last intact sand dune ecosystem” in the state, and is an important Hawaiian cultural site where some believe “the souls of the deceased leapt into the next plane of existence,” the press release said.

It’s also home to monk seals, laysan albatrosses and other protected species, but has suffered from erosion, off-roading and other harmful activities.

“We must work with the community to study the potential for a historic National Heritage Area designation that will help bring the federal resources and protection we need to mālama this special place for generations to come,” Gabbard said in the press release.

Something to consider...

Civil Beat is a small, independent newsroom that provides free content with no paywall. That means readership growth alone can’t sustain our journalism.

The truth is that less than 2% of our monthly readers are financial supporters. To remain a viable business model for local news, we need a higher percentage of readers-turned-donors.

Will you consider making a tax-deductible gift today?

About the Author