DLNR News Release: WAIʻANAE AND WEST HAWAIʻI FORESTS TO BE PROTECTED FROM FIRE THROUGH ARMY PARTNERSHIP

Posted on Dec 17, 2021 in Latest Department News, Newsroom

(HONOLULU) – Forests in the Waiʻanae mountains on Oʻahu and in the Puʻuwaʻawaʻa vicinity on Hawaiʻi Island are about to receive additional protections from threats like wildfires and hoofed animals thanks to a new award from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF), funded with support from the U.S. Army and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. NFWF has awarded more than $1.28 million to the DLNR to address threats using proven tools such as fencing, habitat restoration, removing hoofed animals, and firebreak creation.

Keeping these high-risk landscapes protected from fire greatly increases resilience to floods and erosion. When landscapes are forested, they hold soil and can quickly absorb rainfall, which significantly reduces flooding. Wildfires worsen flooding risk in two ways:

  • degrading or destroying forests
  • changing the soil to make it less absorbent.

In the span of a decade, over 200 fires have occurred within a three-mile radius of the project areas. Fires also threaten the high concentrations of endangered plants in these areas.

A remote section of the Pu‘u Anahulu Game Management Area will get further protection from a 350-acre fence to exclude hoofed animals. It  will include gates to provide continued access. Funds will also support the planting of native species and weed removal. Invasive plants crowd out the habitat for native vegetation, including seven endangered plant species, some with less than 50 individuals remaining in the wild.

By improving the health of these forests, this project will result in increased carbon sequestration and freshwater supplies, clearer ocean waters, and perpetuation of these plants and landscapes as culturally important resources.

“The areas targeted have some of the highest populations of rare dryland forest plants remaining. We are very grateful for this partnership to restore these species, as well as protect life, property, and our ecosystems from fire,” said David Smith, Administrator of the DLNR Division of Forestry and Wildlife (DOFAW).

“This project is a result of coordinated planning between the Army and neighboring private landowners, non-profit organizations, and State and Federal agencies,” saidKapua Kawelo, Natural Resource Manager for the U.S. Army Garrison – Hawaiʻi. “The State, Kamananui Ranch, and Kaʻala Ranch will be contributing funding and in-kind support to keep wild fires from climbing up the mountain and damaging our rare dryland forest plants.”

This grant was also made possible by State Capital Improvement Project (CIP) Watershed Initiative funds, which are serving as the primary source of matching funds. The Army is contributing to this project as these fires cross landowner boundaries and threaten adjacent training grounds.

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RESOURCES 

(All images/video courtesy: DLNR)

HD video – Puʻuwaʻawaʻa Forest Reserve, Hawai‘i Island (May 5, 2021):

https://vimeo.com/657940029

HD video – Wai‘anae Mountains – Nanakuli wildfire (March 20, 2016):

https://vimeo.com/159752296 

HD video – Wai‘anae Mountains raw: 

https://vimeo.com/657942498

Photographs – Wai‘anae Mountains – Nanakuli wildfire (March 20, 2016):

https://www.dropbox.com/sh/rul7g50pk74ffsr/AADZy7H0zlnNWwtpqmiotR_5a?dl=0

Photographs – Puʻuwaʻawaʻa Forest Reserve, Hawai‘i Island (May 5, 2021):

https://www.dropbox.com/sh/xc20qzpiightlas/AAAhqB1uVOLZwKlgg_yWpq0fa?dl=0

Photographs – cut sheet attached

https://www.dropbox.com/sh/351e5f5l65bxcam/AAC94NV2vchiLSI7c8PU-KjYa?dl=0

Media Contact: 

Dan Dennison

Senior Communications Manager

[email protected]

Phone: 587-0396