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Stewarding and Protecting the Land

By Alma Tassi

When Lowson & Associates’ Laurie Lowson and her husband, Mac, moved to a condo above Hāwea Point in Kāʻanapali, they learned about the nesting habitat for the endangered ‘ua‘u kani, a wedge-tailed shearwater seabird. She remembers, “We realized how very important it is to conserve this area.” The Lowsons decided to become supporters of Hawaii Island Land Trust (HILT) in 2008 and have been donors for several years.

Today, Hawaiʻi Land Trust, Maui Nui Seabird Recovery Project, and the Kapalua Resort Association work together to steward this special place. The results of stewardship are clear: With only a handful of birds in the early 2000s, the population has grown to 500 nesting pairs thanks to the protection and removal of invasive species.

This past January, Lowson attended HILT’s signature event, Buy Back the Beach. The event began 22 years ago to raise funds to purchase and protect what is now known as the Waihee Coastal Dunes & Wetlands Refuge and to support the newly formed Maui Coastal Land Trust which became the Hawaiian Islands Land Trust in 2011.

Normally the event is held at the Old Lahaina Luau, but due to the August fires, the event was moved to Wailea at the Molokai Lookout with Old Lahaina Luau providing the dancers. This year’s event raised more than $260,000 supporting their mission work including $80,000 to support HILT’s efforts to document, map, and protect the petroglyphs at Nuu Refuge in Kaupo.


Amy VanQuaethem (left) and Laurie Lowson right) of Lowson & Associates enjoy a luau presented by Hawai’i Island Land Trust to Buy Back the Beach.

HILT owns and stewards three community preserves on Maui. At Waihee Coastal Dunes and Wetlands Refuge, they are working to restore the function of the Kapoho Wetlands and the loko kalo ia within the wetland. At Nuu Refuge they will be documenting, mapping, and identifying protection strategies for the petroglyphs found there. They are also developing a native bio-shield which aims to protect the wetland at Nuu from high-wave events. At Veterans Peace Park in Kahului, they’re negotiating a partnership to create a community food garden that will serve the park’s neighbors. They’re also working on land protection projects in Hana and Waikapu.

All of HILT’s stewardship and protection efforts are community-led. In 2023, 1,684 volunteers gave more than 6,000 hours of their time to support ‘aina stewardship at HILT’s eight community preserves on four islands.

“Volunteers and donors like Laurie make the work we do across the state possible,” says Chief Operations & Philanthropy Officer Angela M. Britten. “Laurie and people like her are tremendous advocates for HILT, helping to spread the value of aloha ‘aina. The more people who share that value, the more HILT and other ‘aina organizations can accomplish.”

Next year’s event is scheduled for Saturday, January 25, 2025. To learn more, donate, or volunteer visit

REALTOR® means a member of the National Association of REALTORS® Do you know a REALTORS® Association of Maui member who should be recognized for their contributions to the community? If so, send your story idea to Alma Tassi at

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