Hanapepe Salt Pond Testimony

SOURCE: Jonathan Jay (jjkauai@gmail.com)
SUBHEAD: The time has come for concerted effort to protect and maintain the integrity of the Hanapepe Salt Ponds.  

By Jose Bulatao on 29 March 2012 in Island Breath -  

Image above: Ben Kali, of Hanapepe Valley, prepares salt pans with his family in 2009 at the Salt Ponds. Photo by Juan Wilson.

Nowhere else on the face of planet Earth is salt produced exactly in the manner and style attributed to the Hanapepe Salt Ponds. Here, in the middle of the Pacific Ocean and on the island of Kaua’i, the quality and the abundance of sea salt produced has been an entrusted and designated familial responsibility handed down from generation to generation for those who have held the practices in good faith and stewardship to honor and uphold the cultural traditions that have been dutifully maintained.

The product is a prized product used for cultural practices and rituals and sought after as well by gourmet chefs along with the locals who are familiar with the special quality of a natural product to enhance the flavor of food that is being prepared. There was a time when different priorities and considerations brought alternative uses to the areas adjacent to Puolo Point in Hanapepe.

Over the years, an airstrip appeared. A picnic area for island residents and visitors was established with required amenities. Nearby, an animal shelter was built. Swimming and shoreline fishing prevailed.

A roadway was placed cutting through the salt-pond area. Later, at the airstrip, fuel tanks were built to support helicopter services. A nearby residential area flourished. Additional amenities enhanced the Salt Pond Pavilion area. The animal shelter was moved and a proposal to convert the premises to a drug-rehabilitation center stimulated pros and cons on the wisdom of the site selection.
Image above: Salt pans prepared and filled with briny water, waiting for the sun to do its magic. Photo by Juan Wilson.

Consequently, the community of Hanapepe is in turmoil. Likewise, island residents, cultural advocates, and entrepreneurial entities have all added their agendas and concerns regarding Puolo Point and it’s surroundings. In sifting out the priorities of what may be “in the highest and best interests” of the Salt Ponds of Hanapepe, what are some of the bottom-line perspectives? To these questions and concerns, I offer these salient viewpoints:
1. The preservation and the restoration of the salt ponds must take precedence over all else. 2. The Hanapepe Salt Ponds is of such profound cultural significance which requires us to safeguard this “living treasure” for generations-yet-to-come. 3. Everything that is within the area that may adversely affect the Hanapepe Salt Ponds must be removed to allow the salt ponds to be repaired and/or restored to the fullest extent possible.
I see this as an opportunity for the private and public sectors to seek the ways and means by which collaborative efforts may be incorporated with clear-cut processes and procedures in place.

I see this as an opportunity to bring to the table those individuals, groups and entities who are direct stakeholders in the preservation o fthe Hanapepe Salt Ponds to BEGIN with that premise: that the Hanapepe Salt Ponds must be PRESERVED, and not merely maintained!

I take this as an opportunity to reach out to the community-at-large to become more than observers of the struggles between conflicting priorities that surround the Hanapepe Salt Ponds. I take this opportunity to appeal to those who have stood on the sidelines to step away from their comfort zones and become involved in the effort to save the Hanapepe Salt Ponds.

As a matter of record, it can be documented to show the extent to which countless meetings have been held....appeals have been made... proposals have been brought to the table... complaints and concerns have been registered... eloquent testimony has been delivered... for years, for decades, and for generations. The time has come for concerted effort to make the decision to clearly protect and maintain the integrity of the Hanapepe Salt Ponds.

For me, the opportunity I have had to present my statements before the County Council of Kauai is as an indication that our public officials are willing to listen to us and to take the necessary steps to move forward. But,also, it is essential to go beyond being “listening posts” to this dilemma. Positive action must take place with all components from the public and private sectors involved in the endeavor. This, then, is a collaborative effort between those in “positions of authority” and the grassroots constituency.

This, then, is OUR kuleana to “malama aina.” Let us remember, as stewards of the land, we must follow with action after we have spoken these words: “If we take care of the land, the land will take care of us.” Let us not falter. Let us not fail. Together, we owe this to ourselves in honor of what has been bestowed upon us as a legacy to keep intact. Together, we owe it those who will follow in our footsteps.

See also:
 Ea O Ka Aina: Kauai Parks and Recreation Master Plan 11/10/04
Ea O Ka Aina: Open Space Commission: Puolo Point Plan 12/10/04
Ea O Ka Aina: Keep Puolo Point natural 4/22/06
Ea O Ka Aina: One voice: Leave Puolo Point Alone 4/26/06


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