Wildfire Causes Closure of Forest Lands Near Mokule`ia

A north shore wildfire burning uphill today toward the state Mokule‘ia Forest Reserve and Pahole Natural Area Reserve may put significant natural resources and endangered species at risk.  A crew of 14 DLNR Division of Forestry and Wildlife (DOFAW)  firefighters with two water tank trucks and helicopter dip tanks has responded to a fire in the Mokule‘ia area, located east of the Mokuleia Forest Reserve access road and west of Kaala road. The Honolulu Fire Department and Honolulu Police Department personnel are is on scene with two helicopters doing water drops. DOFAW has contracted two type 3 helicopters and a type 1 helicopter for water drops.

Photo posted last night by Trina Melinda

Fire size estimate is not available at this time.

DLNR Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement officers are on scene turning away hikers and bikers wanting to use the Mokule‘ia Forest Reserve access road to Peacock Flat campground. These mountain areas, including the Peacock Flats Campground, will remain closed until the fire is contained. Access via the Kaena Point Satellite Tracking station road is also closed until further notice.

”We recognize the access road is popular with hikers and bikers. We appreciate their cooperation with this closure for safety reasons,” said Marigold Zoll, DOFAW O‘ahu branch manager.

The Pahole Natural Area Reserve encompasses a complex valley system in the northern Wai‘anae Mountains. The area is known for its natural diversity and extends from the summit ridge down to the dry lowlands of Mokule‘ia. The reserve contains a rare dry forest, a rare mesic forest, critically endangered kahuli, or Hawaiian tree snails, lowland mesic forests, dry shrublands.

Public Input Sought on Draft Management Plan for Pahole Natural Area Reserve

A draft management plan to help in the restoration and recovery of many rare plants and animals in the Pahole Natural Area Reserve (NAR) of O‘ahu’s Waianae mountain range is now available for public review and comment.  The plan, prepared by the Department of Land and Natural Resources Division of Forestry and Wildlife (DOFAW), outlines the planned management activities in the reserve over the next 15 years. It is part of a series of site-specific plans to be prepared by DOFAW for natural area reserves throughout the state.

paholePahole Natural Area Reserve is situated on the northeastern face of the Wai‘anae Mountain Range in the district of Waialua on the island of O‘ahu. The 658 acre reserve was created to protect lowland native dry to moist forests, including rare and endangered plants and animals. These forests are noted for their species diversity and richness, and are becoming increasingly uncommon. The overall goal of the management plan is to protect, maintain, and enhance the reserve’s unique natural, cultural, and geological resources.

“Drier Hawaiian forest types are particularly susceptible to disturbance. Despite being an actively managed natural area reserve for 35 years, species have declined and habitat has been lost due to threats including invasive species. This plan will focus our efforts to effectively preserve the native resources that remain for future generations,” said Marigold Zoll, DOFAW O‘ahu branch manager.

Management of Pahole NAR, as proposed in the draft plan, will help the restoration and recovery of many rare plants and animals. One of the rarest endemic plant species found in the Reserve, Cyanea superba subsp. superba, had not been seen in the Waianae Mountains for decades before being found in Pahole in 1971. By 1978, there were only 36 plants remaining and by 2002, the plant was extinct in the wild.  Fortunately, this rare plant was successfully propagated off-site and over 1,400 plants have since been restored to the wild at protected and managed sites in Pahole NAR and elsewhere in the Wai‘anae Mountains.

The Natural Area Reserves System was created in 1971 by the Hawai‘i State Legislature to preserve in perpetuity specific land and water areas which support communities, as relatively unmodified as possible, of the natural flora and fauna, as well as geological sites, of Hawai‘i. The system presently consists of 21 reserves on five islands, encompassing more than 123,000 acres of the State’s most unique ecosystems. These diverse areas range from marine and coastal environments to alpine desert and from fresh lava flows to ancient wet forests. These reserves often serve as habitat for rare native plants and animals, many of which are on the verge of extinction.

The management plan approval process includes review by DOFAW branch and administrative staff, partner agency and public consultation, approval by the administrator of DOFAW, and finally approval by the Board of Land and Natural Resources.

The draft management plan is available on the DOFAW website at the following link: https://dlnr.hawaii.gov/ecosystems/files/2016/10/PaholeDraftManagementPlan.pdf

Please submit written comments via email or letter by November 18, 2016 to:

Tanya Rubenstein, Natural Area Reserves Project Coordinator
Division of Forestry and Wildlife
1151 Punchbowl Street, Room 325
Honolulu, HI 96813