DLNR Includes Waikamoi Extension In State’s Natural Area Partnership ProgramPosted on Oct 13, 2014 in Announcements
DEPARTMENT OF LAND AND NATURAL RESOURCES
WILLIAM J. AILA JR,
For Immediate News Release October 13, 2014
DLNR INCLUDES WAIKAMOI EXTENSION IN STATE’S
NATURAL AREA PARTNERSHIP PROGRAM
Inclusion Protects Maui’s Native Forests and Water Resources
HALEAKALÂ, MAUI –The Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) has included a recent 3,721-acre addition to The Nature Conservancy’s (TNC) Waikamoi Preserve into the State’s Natural Area Partnership Program (NAPP). The DLNR’s Division of Forestry and Wildlife offers the program to encourage partnerships for conservation across landowner boundaries. There are over 30,000 acres currently enrolled in the program statewide. The innovative partnership program provides State funds on a two-for-one basis with private funds to protect the privately owned East Maui forest preserve.
“The Nature Conservancy is extremely grateful to the State DLNR for including these lands in the Natural Area Partnership Program,”said Suzanne Case, TNC’s Hawaiʻi executive director. “These supporting funds will enable us to further protect Maui native forests and help ensure the island’s future water supply.”
“With a changing climate threatening our water supply, protecting priority watershed areas is a critical concern of the State. The water need for drinking and agriculture comes directly from mauka forests like the Waikamoi Preserve. Protecting these forests is the most cost-effective and efficient way to replenish groundwater,”noted DLNR Chair William Aila. “Forests absorb mist and fog, and can increase water capture up to 50 percent more than rainfall alone. Yet half of Hawai‘i’s native forests have already been lost.”
In April, landowner East Maui Irrigation Company, Ltd. (EMI), the oldest subsidiary of Alexander & Baldwin, Inc. (A&B), granted TNC a permanent conservation easement over the 3,721-acre parcel adjacent to TNC’s existing Waikamoi Preserve, giving it management control of the land. The combining of the two parcels forms the state’s largest privately owned nature preserve at almost 9,000 acres.
EMI president Garret Hew said, “EMI is proud to work with TNC and contribute to the State’s efforts to protect Maui’s native forests. EMI’s legacy of watershed protection began over a century ago, in the company’s earliest days on Maui. Over the years, we have planted trees in the watershed to increase water absorption and decrease erosion, and removed invasive weeds. We are confident that, with TNC’s expertise and the State’s funding support, current threats on the watershed will be effectively managed and the protection of this important natural resource will be significantly enhanced.”
The new Waikamoi extension consists of undeveloped rainforest at elevations from 3,600 to 9,500 feet above sea level. The native ‘ôhi‘a forest contains 20 threatened or endangered plant and animal species, including the endemic ‘âkohekohe (Crested Honeycreeper, Palmeria dolei) and kiwikiu (Maui Parrotbill, Pseudonestor xanthophrys), two of the rarest birds in the United States. The remaining populations are estimated at 3,700 ‘âkohekohe and about 500 kiwikiu.
“The ‘âkohekohe and kiwikiu were once abundant and found on Maui and Molokaʻi,”said Mark White, TNC’s Maui program director. “Today, encroaching invasive plants and animals have shrunk their populations to small sections of Haleakalâ. NAPP funding is important to protecting their habitat and preventing them from going extinct.”
Management funding for the new NAPP parcel will provide for the potential recovery of these and other rare and endangered plants and animals by focusing on the control of feral animals and invasive weeds such as Himalayan Ginger (Hedychium gardnerianum), which can choke out understory vegetation and threaten native flora and fauna.
The NAPP was established in 1991 to help protect the remaining native ecosystems of Hawai‘i and is part of the East Maui Watershed Partnership (EMWP), a collaborative effort among seven federal, state and private landowners to preserve the native forests and help ensure water security for the people of Maui. Currently, over 30,000 acres are enrolled in the NAPP
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Recovery Land Acquisition Program, through the State DLNR, funded up to 75% of the original $190,000 acquisition costs of the EMI parcel. A&B provided TNC the easement at a discounted price of $142,500, donating the required 25% in matching private funds, or $47,500 worth of value.
Waikamoi Preserve was established in 1983 when Haleakala Ranch Company granted The Nature Conservancy a conservation easement over the original 5,230-acres. Ranch Vice President J. Scott Meidell said “Haleakala Ranch has a long history of supporting exemplary stewardship at Waikamoi Preserve. This newest NAPP addition will allow all of us to do a better job of addressing the threats to our native forest and watershed on East Maui.”
For more information on the Hawai‘i Natural Area Partnership Program, please go to: http://dlnr.hawaii.gov/ecosystems/napp
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