DLNR NEWS RELEASE: DLNR, USFS Seeking Public Comments on Draft Environmental Assessment for Laupahoehoe Forest Management Plan

Posted on Mar 8, 2016 in Latest News

HONOLULU —  The Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) Division of Forestry and Wildlife (DOFAW), and the United States Department of Agriculture, United States Forest Service (USFS) are seeking public comments on a Draft Environmental Assessment (DEA) in connection with a proposed management plan for Laupāhoehoe forest on the island of Hawaiʻi.

The draft plan was prepared in consultation with the Laupāhoehoe Advisory Council (LAC), and seeks to comprehensively protect and preserve Laupāhoehoe forest while enhancing public use and benefits through education, recreation, outreach, demonstration, and research activities.

The draft plan documents the history of the forest, describes its current condition, provides an overview of current management and recommends management actions, and includes proposed management actions to protect natural and cultural resources within Laupāhoehoe forest while also enhancing compatible human uses. The plan will be a guiding document for DOFAW and the USFS for management over the next 15 years.

Suzanne Case, Chairperson of DLNR, said “This plan addresses the threat of invasive non-native species and climate change and recognizes the role an intact forest plays in providing clean fresh water for people and wildlife and supporting healthy coastal marine resources.”

The plan was jointly developed by DOFAW, the USFS and the LAC through a collaborative planning process. Formed in 2010, the LAC is a community-based advisory council that provides guidance and consultation to DOFAW and USFS on issues of management, research, and education in Laupāhoehoe forest. The LAC has had 11 public meetings over the last three years to develop and discuss the draft management plan.

The 12,343 acre Laupāhoehoe forest area consists of two state-managed parcels of land: 4,449 acres of state land designated as forest reserve, and 7,894 acres of land designated as a natural area reserve. Both of these programs are under the state DOFAW.

In addition, the Laupāhoehoe forest is designated as part of the Hawai‘i Experimental Tropical Forest, which was designated to serve as a center for long-term research for the management of tropical forests. Ric Lopez, director of the Institute of Pacific Islands Forestry, explains, “The experimental forest designation means that while the state is the manager of the land, we work cooperatively with them to coordinate research, management, and education/outreach activities for the forest.”

The DEA was published by the Office of Environmental Quality Control in the March 8, 2016 issue of the Environmental Notice.  The document is available at the following link:  https://dlnr.hawaii.gov/ecosystems/laupahoehoe_dea

The public is invited and encouraged to provide public comments on the DEA before April 8, 2016. Please send written comments to:

Tanya Rubenstein
Dept. of Land and Natural Resources
Division of Forestry and Wildlife, Room 325
1151 Punchbowl St.
Honolulu, HI 96813

Or email comments to: tanya.rubenstein@hawaii.gov

Hard copies of the Draft Environmental Assessment will be available at the Hilo and Laupāhoehoe public libraries and the DOFAW office in Hilo at 19 E. Kawili Street.

The LAC will be meeting on March 30, 2016 at the Laupāhoehoe Community Public Charter school cafeteria (35-2065 Mamalahoa Hwy, Laupahoehoe, HI 96764) from 6-8 p.m. to hear public comment and answer any questions regarding the Draft Environmental Assessment.

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Images are available at:
https://www.dropbox.com/sh/e4s2rlc1v00ia9a/AACwIqw4ATNqXadMyDBGIQpGa?dl=0

Media Contact:
Deborah Ward
DLNR Communications specialist
Phone: (808) 587-0320