Doug Cole of the North Shore Community Land Trust has made it his mission to preserve the coastal and agricultural beauty of the North Shore. Recently, we caught up with Doug to get his take on protecting one of the world's great treasures, Oahu's North Shore.
How would you describe the North Shore Community Land Trust?
We’re a volunteer-based land-conservation organization that works with landowners, community members, and the government to preserve land here on the North Shore. Specifically, we’re working on the ahupua’a that stretches from Kahuku to Kaena Point. Our organization was formed in 1997 to fill a niche and conserve the natural beauty of the North Shore. We want to protect the history, culture, and the rural character of this special place.
The two biggest types of land we’re fighting to protect are agricultural land and coastal land. When you look at the North Shore and what makes it special, we can all appreciate the beaches, the ocean, and the surf. But if you take a moment to think about all of the urban development in other parts of the island, you’ll be reminded of just how important it is to have open space. And the North Shore is one of the few places on Oahu where you have that.
Hawaii imports so much of what we consume. Recently, there's been a sustained effort to wean ourselves from the mainland and become more self-sufficient. Along these lines, what efforts do you see that are currently in the works that are having a positive impact on the North Shore?
As far as agricultural land goes, we’ve been working with Turtle Bay Resort to preserve 469 acres of high-quality ag land stretching from Kawela Bay all the way to the hotel. We’re now protecting that area, which is farmed by about a dozen farmers that proved the state with food grown right here on our islands. It’s not just as simple as protecting the land. We want people to understand why it’s important to protect these areas. That’s why we’ve created the North Shore Food Summit, which provides opportunities for people to understand what’s going on. The summit last two days and includes field trips, lectures, and opportunities to meet with the local farmers who are growing our food right here on the North Shore.
How has the feedback been so far?
People really appreciate what we’re doing. We’re nearing another deal where we’ll protect 630 coastal acres from development on the North Shore. That’s a big deal. And it's been decades in the making. We have one of the only places left on Oahu where you have miles of undeveloped coastline. We’ve succeeding in bringing all of the relevant parties together (private organizations, concerned citizens, and the government) to raise $45 million dollars to make it happen.