The word “Hana” immediately conjures thoughts of a very special seclusion, even isolation, in the most idyllic of settings. Hana is rural, remote, and scenic. Hawai‘i’s royalty regarded it as a favorite hideaway. Even on Maui, one of Hawai‘i’s most-celebrated and wondrous islands, Hana is a special, distinct treasure.
In 2014, the mauka portion of Hana Ranch, 3600 acres on the mountainside of the highway, were sold by Hana Ranch Partners. On the makai side of the highway, the ranch’s oceanfront parcels, comprised of approximately 460 acres just south of Hamoa Beach, are currently listed for sale. The makai lands are now a time-sensitive conservation opportunity, as the parcels are being offered separately as well.
Fortunately, this is precisely where the interests of conservationists, the Hawaiian Islands Land Trust (HILT), and the real estate market may align. These parties are paying close attention to Hana for obvious reasons, but the acute awareness of this particular offering at Maka‘alae is a result of their 2002 success in helping to preserve 41 acres of coastal ranch lands just south of Hana town (as the Maui Coastal Land Trust, which in 2011 along with three other island-specific land trusts merged into HILT).
The offering of multiple parcels and multiple house rights may be both a blessing and a curse. Multiple buyers could separate these parcels forever, and build several new homes along the coastline. A single buyer, though, could create a conservation legacy at Maka‘alae and, in the process, also realize substantial federal income tax benefits and possibly future estate tax benefits as well.
To paint a more vivid picture of this “Conservation Purchase” concept, Summit caught up with HILT’s Executive Director, Ted Clement.
Summit (S): Can you share about the Hawaiian Islands Land Trust in general? What is it, and what’s its mission?
Ted Clement (TC): HILT is a local 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, the first nationally accredited land trust in Hawai‘i, with a mission to protect the lands that will sustain us for current and future generations. HILT has conserved over 17,000 acres to date, via perpetual Conservation Easements and Fee Simple Ownership, on a number of properties with various conservation values important to residents and visitors alike. We conserve lands that secure Hawai‘i’s long-term well-being, lands with scenic views, agricultural resources, wildlife habitats, water resource areas, cultural and historical sites, and outdoor recreation opportunities.
S: What is a Conservation Easement?
TC: A Conservation Easement is HILT’s primary conservation tool. It is a voluntary legal agreement between a landowner and a qualified conservation organization, such as HILT, that permanently restricts certain activities on the land so as to protect the land’s conservation values. The landowner who donates a Conservation Easement to HILT remains the landowner, and HILT must uphold the donor’s wishes codified in the Conservation Easement even with future landowners of the subject property.
S: Does the landowner give up access to the land then, or does the public automatically get access to the land conserved with a Conservation Easement?
TC: The donor of the Conservation Easement decides that. However, if public access is not granted through the Conservation Easement, other conservation values must be protected for the public good such as conservation of important agricultural lands, cultural and historical sites, wildlife habitat, etc.
S: Who’s the ideal buyer here?
TC: Well, essentially it’s a conservation buyer. Someone thoughtful and sophisticated who appreciates the special conservation values of this spectacular property and who is willing to work with a land trust to protect those values with a Conservation Easement.
S: Can you share a little more about the benefits to a buyer who participates in a Conservation Program like this?
TC: Sure, a Conservation Buyer can create a meaningful and lasting green legacy by protecting an iconic property with a perpetual Conservation Easement. It’s also a very respectful and generous way to enter a new community. There can be significant economic benefits, too. A buyer could realize substantial federal income tax benefits, and possible future estate tax benefits, and local property tax benefits. All of these are especially helpful for the creation of a family heirloom property. A Conservation Easement extinguishes most or all of a property’s valuable development rights so as to permanently protect the land’s conservation values for the public good.
S: Why the focus on Hana for HILT?
TC: The Hana Ranch lands literally help make Hana the stunning and culturally rich area that it is. These lands have numerous and recognized conservation values including cultural and historical sites, agricultural resources, scenic vistas, water resources and wildlife habitats. Since we’ve already conserved nearby land there, we want to build on that to create a lasting greenway which honors this incredible place.
Hawaii Life is proud to be one of the “Founding Few” members of HILT, and we’re committed to a three-year pledge to help provide the support needed for HILT’s land conservation efforts.