Frequently Asked Questions
When are the public hearings for the proposed rules?
The Division of Forestry and Wildlife (DOFAW) will begin scheduling public hearings on the proposed rules in April 2018. The public hearings will be announced in local newspapers, via press releases, and on our website, with a schedule of public hearings available here. If you have any questions or would like to share your opinion now, we are currently accepting all comments and questions here.
What is changing with the new rules?
DOFAW is proposing a comprehensive revision to streamline, clarify, improve enforceability, and update allowed uses and activities in the public forest reserves. The last comparable update of the forest reserve rules was in 1993. Overall, we anticipate that the proposed changes should have very little impact to the public and how people interact with the forest reserves. The proposed rule change increases government transparency and improves the framework used to manage public forests in Hawaiʻi. We are providing a variety of different ways you can learn about what is changing, including the official Ramseyer version of the rules, an informational booklet, and an online guide.
With the proposed rules, will I still be able to access the forest reserves in my community?
Yes, almost all of the forest reserves are open to the public for use and enjoyment (some restricted watersheds are closed to the public to protect important drinking water sources). DOFAW closes forest reserves only if it is necessary to protect natural and cultural resources, or if there is a threat to human health and safety from a natural disaster (e.g.: active or high level threat of wildfire, hurricane, tropical storm, etc.). The current rules already allow DOFAW to close a forest reserve. What the proposed rule change does is define a transparent and structured procedure for closing forest reserves. Any closure that exceeds 90 days will require approval by the Board of Land and Natural Resources (BLNR).
Will my traditional and customary rights be upheld?
Yes, the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) and DOFAW will uphold the traditional and customary rights of the people of Hawaiʻi as codified in the Hawaiʻi State Constitution.
How can I provide my comments on the proposed rules?
DOFAW will begin scheduling public hearings on the proposed rules in April 2018. If you have any questions or would like to share your opinion now, we are currently accepting all comments and questions here.
Why are there commercial fees in the forest reserve rules?
Sustainable commercial harvesting of natural resources from the Forest Reserve System is already allowable under the current rules and laws. Charging for other low impact commercial activities and use (such as ecotourism) of these public resources is appropriate and warranted to help sustainably manage them. All fees collected will be put back into forest management.