Wao Kele O Puna

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Wao Kele O Puna, a 27,785-acre piece of densely forested land located within the East Rift Zone of Kilauea volcano on the island of Hawai'i was owned by the Campbell Estate. The tract is one of the last large intact lowland forests in Hawaii. It also is approximately one-fifth of the watershed feeding the island's largest water source, the Pahoa aquifer.

Wao Kele O Puna was also at the center of a twenty-year struggle to stop the state of Hawai‘i from tapping the home of the fire goddess Pele for its geothermal energy.

From a Honolulu Star-Bulletin article entitled, Campbell Estate selling half of land holdings, Tim Ruel wrote:

Campbell Estate is a private, for-profit trust set up in 1900 for the heirs of Scottish carpenter James Campbell, who bought more than 84,000 acres in Hawaii before his death.
Under the terms of Campbell's will, the trust will dissolve Jan. 20, 2007.
"We see Wao Kele O Puna as an opportunity for further diversification by converting it from a large land holding to a financial asset," said Dave McCoy, chief executive of Campbell Estate.
Wao Kele O Puna represents the bulk of the estate's holdings on the Big Island and about 45 percent of its total 62,500 acres statewide.
James Campbell never purchased Wao Kele O Puna, but did buy the property next door, Kahauale'a, at public auction in 1892. The trust later acquired Wao Kele O Puna from the state of Hawaii in 1986 by swapping it for Kahauale'a. Environmentalists proposed the trade because they considered Kahauale'a to be more pristine forest land than Wao Kele O Puna.
The Pele Defense Fund, however, sued to undo the exchange, arguing that making Wao Kele O Puna private would block traditional forms of access to native Hawaiians. The fund also opposed a geothermal development proposed for the area.
The suit did not undo the land swap, but instead led to a controversial Hawaii State Supreme Court ruling that native Hawaiians have hunting and gathering rights on private property, including the Campbell land.
Meanwhile, the property up for sale still carries a license for geothermal development that runs through Jan. 31, 2016. For now, the permit is only used by the state to monitor two geothermal wells. [1]

In a Honolulu Star-Bulletin article entitled, OHA to acquire Puna forest tract and dated September 13, 2005, Richard Borreca wrote:

The Trust for Public Land will buy the property next year for $3.65 million, using $3.4 million in U.S. Forest Service Forest Legacy program money, obtained by Hawaii's congressional delegation.
Title in the property will be transferred to Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA), which put up the remaining $250,000 to buy the land.
While OHA will eventually be responsible for the land tract, the state's Land and Natural Resources Department will manage it after the sale. [2]

OHA completed the purchase of Wao Kele O Puna on July 14, 2006. [3]

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