The forest reserve system

The Forest Reserve System (FRS) was originally created by the Territorial Government of Hawaiʻi in 1903 in an effort to protect and restore watersheds in Hawaiʻi. 

Today, management of the forest reserves includes management for a number of public benefits and uses in addition to watersheds, such as native species protection, forest restoration, public recreation, forest products, opportunities for  cultural practices, and archaeological preservation. 

The FRS is managed under the guidance of the Hawaiʻi State Constitution, Chapter 183, Hawaiʻi Revised Statutes, and Chapter 13-104, Hawaiʻi Administrative Rules (HAR). It is the forest reserve rules, or Chapter 13-104, HAR that are proposed for revision.

Why the rules need to change

  • The forest reserve rules need to be updated to accommodate new technology (i.e. drones and online permit systems).
  • Create or improve procedures to increase efficiency and transparency.
  • Improve clarity to the existing rules.
  • Establish fees assessed to the public through the rule making process.
  • Increase available funding for forest reserve management by generating funds through revenue and fees.
  • Improve enforceability of the rules to better protect our natural and cultural resources.

Major proposed changes

  • The majority of the rule changes clarifies language and improves procedures to allow for more transparent and effective management of the FRS. Not all changes are included in the rule change guide.  The official rule change document which contains all of the proposed changes can be found here.
  • Permits will be required for the use of drone technology in the FRS.
  • Parking fees may be established for parking in specially designated high use and developed recreational areas.
  • Commercial opportunities including a sustainable forest product industry and ecotourism may be allowed in the FRS with a permit, subject to fees for use.

Benefits of proposed rule changes

  • Improves clarity and transparency for the management of the forest reserves.
  • Improves the capability of DOFAW to properly manage the FRS held in public trust by the State of Hawaiʻi.
  • Increases opportunity for a sustainable forest product and ecotourism industry.
  • Diversifies funding sources for forest management.

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