To Adam Borrello, a '88 Leilehua graduate raised among the pine fields of central Oahu, the North Shore is a magical place. An avid surfer, Adam has always cared deeply for the natural beauty and rural character of North Shore. Fond memories of pine and cane fields from Wahiawa –– "The Gateway to the North Shore" –– down to Haleiwa inform his perspective and vision for this special place. The same geographic area is also the mission area for the North Shore Community Land Trust, where Adam was recently named the executive director.
In the early 90s Adam testified at Haleiwa Elementary against a development slated to be built above Sunset Beach Elementary School. During this process Adam met Larry McElheny, which led to Adam’s involvement with the Save Sunset Beach Coalition. In this role, he attended community meetings and lobbied politicians to preserve the property and avoid the potential negative impacts to the ocean and reef habitat.
The good work of Save Sunset Beach led to the formation of the North Shore Community Land Trust after the community recognized a need to establish an organization that could play an important stewardship role in the effort to conserve land along the North Shore. Adam served as the trust’s board president for nearly 18 years. He was a natural fit to take the reins from Doug Cole, the previous executive director, when he stepped down from the post in late 2018.
Adam, Doug, and original executive director Blake McElheny are close friends with a shared passion for conserving lands and the unique character of the special communities in the mission area. As North Shore Community Land Trust executive directors, past and present, the three share the goal of protecting the rural character of the North Shore and preserving the beauty of coastline and ocean through thoughtful stewardship of the land from mauka to makai.
“All of my travels and surfing trips across the globe have shown me that the North Shore is one of the most special places on our earth,” said Adam. “It is singular in its beauty and sense of community, and it is our responsibility to protect and care for this land, preserving its natural beauty in perpetuity
The North Shore Community Land Trust has flourished under the leadership of Doug and Blake, with the organization employing two full-time staff members and maintaining a clear identity and mission. As the new executive director, Adam looks forward to building on the strong foundation established by his predecessors by leading the land trust into continued growth and stabilization.
While nonprofits are always challenged by reliance on donations and grants, this is particularly true in the environmental sphere as grant money is often earmarked and only available for a specific use, placing restrictions on what an organization can accomplish.
“I hope to evolve North Shore Community Land Trust to continue to be more self-sustaining,” said Adam. “This will give us the freedom to preserve and steward additional land and make a larger impact on the North Shore.”
In his first few months on the job, Adam has been fortunate to witness several exciting developments. The Dune Restoration project at Sunset Beach, albatross successfully nesting and hatching at Kahuku Point, Puukua (once the last privately-owned land parcel) returned back Waimea Valley for preservation and the transfer of a Kaena Point parcel to the Department of Land and Natural Resources to be added to the Natural Area Reserve.
"All these events are inspiring and the result of the handwork of many, including volunteers and staff. The last two transfers would not have been possible without the generosity and vision of the Hewahewa Ohana and Tom families. Their common desire to preserve and share these special treasures with everyone guides our efforts at NSCLT," Adam Borrello.
While it will take years for the organization’s kuleana of restoring the North Shore from Kahuku to Kaena Point to its pristine, native condition, Adam looks toward those years with hope and optimism for a brighter, greener future for the North Shore and all who call her home.