The Department of Land and Natural Resources is beginning a project to protect rare birds and their native forest habitat in the Hono O Na Pali Natural Area Reserve.
The natural area reserve stretches from sea level along the picturesque Na Pali coast up to the Alaka'i plateau in the Hanalei and Waimea districts. The reserve protects native forest watersheds, as well as 48 species of endangered plants, and six endangered bird species.
Hikers may experience these mist-shrouded forests by hiking on the Alaka'i Swamp trail boardwalk. Many of the plants and bird species seen along the trail only exist on Kauai.
The project includes control of invasive weeds like Himalayan ginger and Australian Tree Ferns, non-native animal removal, and monitoring unique rare plants and animals. A 3.3-mile fence from Pihea to Kilohana will exclude feral goats and pigs from 2,290 acres of high elevation forests. These animals spread invasive weeds and create bare ground. Feral pigs also prey upon rare seabird nests.
Public access to the area will not be affected by the fence. Gates and step-overs will be installed at trails and access points along fences to facilitate access for hikers, hunters, gatherers, and any others who use this area.
This comprehensive management will help protect native forests watersheds essential for providing fresh water supply on Kaua‘i. These forests act as a sponge, absorbing rain and fog moisture from passing clouds while reducing runoff.
"When forests disappear, Hawai'i's water source shrinks," said Gov. Neil Abercrombie. "In the last 200 years, more than half of Hawai'i's forests have been lost. The longer we wait to take significant action, the higher the cost will be to reverse the damage, thereby threatening water supplies for future generations."
The protection of forests is also critical for reducing Hawaii's greenhouse gas emissions, and mitigating the effects of climate change.
This project is funded in part by the United States Forest Service State and Private Forestry grants and state's "The Rain Follows the Forest" watershed initiative through capital improvement project and general funding. Actions are guided by the Hono O Na Pali Long Range Management Plan.
As part of the public review process and environmental compliance under Hawai‘i Revised Statute 343, an Environmental Assessment was made available for public consultation in November 2011. DLNR reached out to more than 100 Kauai organizations and individuals for input on this project.
The Hono O Na Pali Reserve is part of the Division of Forestry and Wildlife's Natural Area Reserves System; a program created in 1971 to protect the state’s unique ecosystems. The program actively manages these reserves in order to preserve the special characteristics that make these areas an integral part of the natural and cultural heritage of Hawaii.
Hono O Na Pali is one of the two reserves on the island of Kauai.
For more information on Hawaii's Natural Area Reserves System, please go to:
http://hawaii.gov/dlnr/dofaw/nars or call (808) 274-3442