Categorized | News

Partnership to protect native forest on Mauna Loa


HILO — The state Department of Land and Natural Resources will soon be adding a 1,336-acre parcel (Kukuau I) of forest land on the windward slopes of Mauna Loa into the state’s Forest Reserve System.

The Hawaii Island Land Trust and private landowners completed this conservation acquisition in an effort to reduce forest land conversion from impending development pressures in the Hilo area.

This property is between the 2,400 and 3,800 feet elevations on the windward slopes of Mauna Loa adjacent to the state’s Waiakea Forest Reserve. The property is part of a larger watershed and is comprised of approximately 550 acres of old growth koa (Acacia koa) and ohia (Metrosiderous polymorpha) trees that have never been logged. The area includes diverse native flora and it remains remarkably free of invasive alien species.

“Partnerships and programs such as these provide landowners with alternatives to selling their land to development companies,” said Laura H. Thielen, DLNR chairwoman. “With the help of land trusts, new cost-share and tax programs, and conservation-minded landowners, Hawaii is increasing the number of incentive programs which afford landowners a secure financial future and enhance natural resources that we all benefit from.”

Acquisition of this parcel was made possible through a partnership between the Hawaii Island Land Trust, DLNR, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Recovery Land Acquisition Program, the State of Hawaii Legacy Land Conservation Program and Ivan Lui-Kwan, a local landowner representing the Kukuau I property.

“Hawaii Island Land Trust (HILT) is pleased to play a role in this important transaction that will protect this forest and its native species. We are excited to help landowners fulfill their desires to protect their land for generations to come through land purchases or conservation easements,” said Michael Katz, HILT’s President.

In 2005, DLNR was approached by Ivan Lui-Kwan whose interest was to sell this property to a conservation agency ensuring that the old growth koa and ohia forest would be protected forever.

In early 2006, two requests for funding applications were submitted by the Division of Forestry and Wildlife. One was to the Recovery Land Acquisition Program for $875,000 in funds from the Federal US Department of the Interior Fish and Wildlife Recovery Land Acquisition Program. The other was to the Legacy Land Conservation Program for $375,000 in state funds.

Both were eventually funded to complete a $1,250,000 conservation acquisition that will allow DLNR’s Divisions of Forestry and Wildlife and Conservation and Resource Enforcement to provide the long-term management and protection that this forest deserves.

Conservation acquisitions are complex and often time-consuming to realize. They involve unique documentation when involving Federal and State funding sources, and require compliance with a myriad of eligibility criteria. With the assistance of Hawaii Island Land Trust, DLNR’s Land Division and the State Attorney General’s office, this acquisition closed June 29.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

RSS Weather Alerts

  • An error has occurred, which probably means the feed is down. Try again later.