NPS offers support for Hawaii’s first national heritage area

By Scott Streater | 06/28/2024 06:23 AM EDT

A key Republican said he wants to make sure legislation doesn’t hurt development or property rights.

Charred remains of the Old Lahaina Courthouse.

The charred remains of the Old Lahaina Courthouse last year in Lahaina, Hawaii. Rick Bowmer/AP

A senior National Park Service official told a House panel Thursday the agency largely supports legislation that could lead to establishing Hawaii’s first national heritage area at a site that was devastated last year by the deadliest U.S. wildfire in more than a century.

Joy Beasley, NPS associate director of cultural resources, partnerships and science, testified before the Subcommittee on Federal Lands that the agency supports H.R. 8219, sponsored by Rep. Jill Tokuda (D-Hawaii), with a couple of minor suggested modifications.

The “Lahaina National Heritage Area Act” would authorize the Interior secretary to direct a study be conducted on the feasibility of designating the town of Lahaina on the northwest coast of Maui as a national heritage area.


Beasley noted the “rich history” of Lahaina, which includes serving as the capital of the Hawaiian Kingdom from 1820 to 1845. And she said the Interior Department and the National Park Service “will continue to support the long-term recovery efforts of the Maui community.”