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    March 2019
    S M T W T F S
    « May    

DLNR and Olson Trust Establish a Public Access Route to the Ka’u Forest Reserve

A public vehicular access route to the Ka’u Forest Reserve will soon be established along three miles of road along the lower boundary of this majestic forest reserve that spans over 61,000 acres on the south-eastern slopes of Mauna Loa, Hawaii. It will make more accessible areas of the reserve for public use which includes hunting, recreational opportunities, cultural uses, personal gathering and educational programs and activities.

kau plan

To be known as the “Olson Forest Access” establishment of this route was accomplished through a collaborative effort by the Ka‘u community, local hunters, private landowners, public land managers, and natural resource conservation partners.

The public access route was formally agreed to on June 22 this year, when landowner Edmund C. Olson signed a memorandum of agreement (MOA) with DLNR Chair Suzanne Case to establish a public access route to the Ka‘u Forest Reserve over lands owned by the Edmund C. Olson Trust No. 2.

Providing public access is called for in DLNR’s Ka‘u Forest Reserve Management Plan (2012) which can be found at http://dlnr.hawaii.gov/forestry/files/2013/02/Kau_FR_Mgnt_Plan_2012.pdf

DLNR’s Division of Forestry and Wildlife won competitive grants to establish the public access route from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (Voluntary Public Access and Habitat Improvement Program) and the National Shooting Sports Foundation (Hunting Heritage Partnership).

Other key partners who will be involved include the Hawaii Department of Agriculture; Kuahiwi Contractors, Inc.; Three Mountain Alliance Watershed Partnership; The Nature Conservancy; Hawaii Volcanoes National Park; and the County of Hawaii Game Management Advisory Commission.

Together, these partners will install fencing, signage, and roadway improvements along the public access route, and provide ongoing maintenance in accordance with the MOA.

The public will be able to use the access after DOFAW secures access over the initial segment of the route from DLNR’s Land Division, and the project partners complete the planned infrastructure improvements.

A permit will not be required for entry; however, DLNR rules may require a permit or license for certain activities within the forest reserve.

For more information about the Olson Forest Access, including volunteer opportunities, please contact Nohea Ka‘awa, at Three Mountain Alliance, phone (808) 333-7497.

DLNR Proposes to Restore and Manage Watershed in Ka’u Forest Reserve

Draft environmental assessment now available for public comment

The Department of Land and Natural Resources Division of Forestry and Wildlife (DOFAW) is seeking public comment on a Draft Environmental Assessment (DEA) for a management plan for the 61,641-acre Ka‘ū Forest Reserve.

Aerial View of Kau Forest Reserve

As part of the public review process and environmental compliance under Hawai‘i Revised Statute 343, the DEA is now available for review and comment until June 22. It can be found online together with the management plan and cultural impact assessment at: http://hawaii.gov/dlnr/dofaw

“This management plan is part of the DLNR’s goal to increase protection of Hawai‘i’s forested watersheds, as well as to fulfill our mandate to restore native Hawaiian species such as the ‘Alalā and provide access and recreational opportunities to the people of Hawai‘i,” said William J. Aila, Jr., DLNR Chairperson.

The management plan responds to a need to maintain and restore a key watershed in the areas of Wood Valley, Pahāla, Wai‘ōhinu and Nā‘ālehu. It seeks to preserve a unique ecosystem with critically endangered plants and animals, and perpetuate natural resources vital to Hawaiian culture and practices. It may provide a suitable site to reintroduce ‘Alalā or Hawaiian Crow into the wild, and provide for continued and expanded public use, including hunting.

Proposed management actions include enhancing public access in some areas, fencing and ungulate removal from the most critical area(s), predator control to protect native forest birds, invasive plant removal and control, and native plant restoration. The plan also includes actions needed to reintroduce the ‘Alalā to the Ka‘ū Forest Reserve.

DOFAW is working with adjacent landowners to provide additional access, particularly across State-leased and private land below the Reserve, to ensure continued public access. Gates and step-overs will be installed at trails and access points along fences to facilitate access for hikers, hunters, gatherers, and others who use this area.

Nohea Ka‘awa, DOFAW outreach and education specialist, has been meeting with community members for the past eight months to share information about the Forest Reserve, its status, threats, value to people, and proposed actions to protect it from further damage by invasive, non-native plants and animals.

Ka‘awa said: “A lot of cultural knowledge about the Reserve that has been documented and is still practiced today is the knowledge passed down from our Ka‘ū kūpuna. We started gathering community input by talking with our kūpuna, and from there, everything else fell into place.

“We consulted and interviewed over 80 community members and actually had site visits with them up into the remote parts of the Ka‘ū Forest Reserve where we are planning some of our projects. There is a lot of support for this project from the community. The Ka‘ū hunters we met with were very interested in the project and some even volunteered themselves to help with the fencing and management work.”

Shanell Leilani Dedman, a Ka‘ū resident, Cultural Resource Specialist, and Makua member of Kūpuna Council for Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park, is supportive of continued and expanded public use. She noted that “Access to the Ka‘u Forest Reserve for residents, especially to the Ka‘ū district, should be a priority. Protection of the forest for cultural, recreational and personal gathering rights among others is a positive step towards promoting stewardship. The Ka‘ū Forest Reserve are wahi kapu (sacred areas).”

Ka‘awa added that “DOFAW’s goal is to work with the Ka‘ū community throughout the implementation of the plan and to continue to provide programs that will educate future generations about the environment and how we are all connected.”

The Ka‘ū Forest Reserve was established in 1906 to protect these forests on the lower slopes of Mauna Loa to ensure a good water supply for the agricultural lands of Ka‘ū. Tunnels and springs in the Ka‘ū Forest Reserve are still used today for domestic use as well as agriculture. Much of the agriculture in Ka‘ū, including coffee, macadamia nuts, and ranching, depends on a supply of fresh, clean water from the springs and tunnels in the Reserve, and maintaining this water supply is vital for the future viability of agriculture and the Ka‘ū community. The Reserve’s native forests replenish springs and other groundwater, reduce flooding and erosion, provide habitat for unique species of plants and animals and are also a cultural, recreational and scenic resource for the community.

Questions regarding this project may be directed to Mililani Browning, Outreach Coordinator at the Division of Forestry and Wildlife, at (808) 933-3171.