The state Department of Land and Natural Resources recently completed and published an environmental assessment for a plan to manage the 61,641 acre Ka‘u Forest Reserve.
The EA lays out the general purposes of the management plan as follows:
* Develop management actions for general and specific areas that protect and restore the watershed and native species as vital natural and cultural resources. These actions include fencing and ungulate removal from the most critical area(s), predator control, invasive plant removal and control, and native plant restoration.
* Reintroduce the Alala to the Ka‘u Forest Reserve.
* Enhance public access to Ka‘u Forest Reserve through development and maintenance of public access roads, and other infrastructure (trails, cabins and/or campsites, etc.).
* Conform with the purpose of the Forest Reserve System and the Ka‘u Forest Reserve, in particular as stated in Hawaii Revised Statutes (Chapter 183) and associated Hawaii Administrative Rules (Chapter 104), to protect, manage, restore, and monitor the resources of Forest Reserves for the public benefit, particularly water resources.
Implementation of this management plan will be a huge benefit to rare, threatened and endangered plant and animal species in the ecosystem.
The Ka‘u forest provides habitat for 16 native Hawaiian birds, including 7 ESA-listed species; encompasses five major native-dominated forest ecosystems, contains critical habitat for 32 rare plants (listed or candidate) and four endemic and/or listed invertebrates, and likely also provides habitat for the Hawaiian hoary bat.
Fencing is already built on one side of the unit, and partnership opportunities are available with adjacent landowners for additional habitat protection.
This week the Pele Defense Fund and some individual hunters filed a lawsuit challenging the Plan. The plaintiffs are requesting that DLNR produce an Environmental Impact Statement further addressing cultural and economic impacts of lost hunting grounds.
For the full text of the EA, visit: oeqc.doh.hawaii.gov/Shared%20D…