Hearings and Business Meetings

10:00 AM

Mr. Peter Simmons

Regional Operations Director, Kamehameha Schools


Friday, August 05, 2005



Testimony of Peter Simmons

Regional Asset Manager

Land Assets Division/Endowment Group


Before the

Subcommittee on National Parks of the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources


My Name is Peter Simmons I am testifying today on behalf of Kamehameha Schools.  I am the Regional Asset Manger of our Land Assets Division on Hawaiÿi Island.  Our divisions’ areas of responsibility on Hawaiÿi Island include 292,000 acres of Agricultural and Conservation lands on Hawaiÿi Island.  Hawaiÿi Volcano National Park was created in the early 1920’s in the ma kai lower portion of the ÿili (smaller land division) of Keauhou which is in the ahupuaÿa (larger land division) of Kapapala, Kaÿü.  These lands were owned by KS and they were given to the Federal Government; they comprise the core of the park.  These lands include Halemaÿumaÿu Creater and the lands surrounding it.  In subsequent years, through a series of transactions Hawaiÿi Volcanoes National Park acquired from KS the remainder of our ma kai lands in Keauhou.  In total about 30,000 acres of former KS land is a part of HVNP.  In addition, the national park at Puÿu Honua ÿo Hönaunau was acquired from KS. 


We share 26 miles of boundary with the national park which includes 11 miles of HVNP’s recently acquired Kahuku property.  At times, in the past our land use and the parks were similar (cattle were grazed in the park in its early days) as they were on our lands.  Sometimes our land uses have been complementary as is the case today in that our weed and ungulate control at Keauhou, Kaÿü enhances the parks environmental as their control of certain aggressive exotic species helps us achieve our environmental goals more efficiently.  There are places where our management activities and strategies differ from those of the park.  Presently we believe that while there are lands on which we desire to have no ungulates, there are other lands where we believe that the native ecosystems can and do significantly show signs of improved health by reducing but not eliminating ungulates.  In some of these lands we have hunting, in some of these lands we have grazing especially to reduce fire risk through the reduction of fuels especially pyrophytic exotic grasses.


Before the current era of large-scale, watershed, land partnership, there was sharing sometimes more limited than others of information, values and goals that influence how we viewed and mitigated the presence of aggressive exotic plants and animals.  In the present era of watershed partnerships with the park and others, our alignment of values, agreement of common goals and accelerated and open information sharing is proving to be successful in the battle to control aggressive alien organisms.


We are grateful to have HVNP as our neighbor, partner and friend in conservation.  Areas where we can improve our control over exotics pests are being addressed and include:

Ø      Fire modeling and control (Exotic plants generally reoccupy the land after fires),

Ø      General community and landowner education and outreach, (neighborhood plants, cats mosquitoes negatively affect the quality of our native plants and animals), and

Ø      Endeavoring to reach deeper understanding Na mea ÿo Hawaiÿi (Hawaiian Culture) to understand the indigenous culture’s perspective on ethno-ecological issues.