1,200 Acres in S. Kona Proposed to be Natural Area ReserveNovember 17, 2020, 6:00 AM HST (Updated November 16, 2020, 5:46 PM)
The Department of Land and Natural Resources is seeking community input on designating an area in South Kona for native ecosystem protection.
A roughly 1,260-acre parcel in Waiea, on Hawai‘i Island, is being proposed as an addition to the Hawai‘i Natural Area Reserve (NAR) System. The DLNR Division of Forestry and Wildlife (DOFAW) will hold a virtual hearing at 6 p.m. on Nov. 30, 2020, to receive community testimony about this proposal. The area is contiguous to other land parcels that are under management for forest, wildlife, and water conservation, and its addition would strengthen native ecosystem protection in the South Kona area.
“The inclusion of Waiea in the NAR System would set aside the area for the purposes of protecting the native forest,” DLNR stated in a Facebook post. “Waiea is home to birds, insects, and plants that are rare, and not found anywhere else in the world.”
The NAR system seeks, DLNR added, to keep these forests as intact as possible, to preserve plants and wildlife that evolved over millennia to become unique to the islands.
“The protection of these species perpetuates the cultural practices that evolved with these ancient landscapes,” DLNR wrote. “These native Hawaiian forests absorb rain, providing life-giving water while reducing erosion into the beaches and reefs below.”
The proposed NAR is approximately 1.5 miles mauka of where Highway 11 intersects with Ho‘okena Beach Road. While NARs are generally open to everyone for hiking and nature study, this area is currently landlocked by adjacent private land, so currently there is no access to this area.
People unable to attend or who want to present additional comments may mail written testimony received no later than December 4, 2020, to the Division of Forestry and Wildlife, Attn: Emma Yuen, 1151 Punchbowl St., Rm. 325, Honolulu HI, 96813, or via email to [email protected]
Copies of the nomination and a map of the area are available for inspection by contacting the address above. Anyone may testify or present information at the open hearing. If you require auxiliary aids (taped materials or sign language interpreter), please request assistance 10 working days before the date of the hearing by calling 808-587-4170.
The virtual meeting will take place via Zoom (https://us02web.zoom.us/j/84542844544).