Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Honouliuli native dryland forest protected

Virtually nobody in Hawaii knows what a lowland native forest in Hawai'i looks like.

The old low forests are mostly gone, destroyed on every island by agriculture, fire, cattle grazing, invasive species and urban development.

(Image: The Honouliuli Forest Reserve. Credit: Phil Spalding III, The Nature Conservancy.)

Only remnants survive, and these are not intact. They contain little of the original diversity, not only of plants, but also of grazing land birds, flitting forest birds and soaring predatory birds, the ivory and umber and chocolate swirls of the tree snails and all the rest.

But what's left is unlike anything else in Hawai'i, and precious.

The community in March gained a prize that was formally dedicated this morning (June 2, 2010): the transfer of 3,592 acres of Honouliuli to government protection.

This lowland forest was purchased from the James Campbell Company by the Trust for Public Land. It has been operated since 2000 by The Nature Conservancy of Hawai'i, and now has been conveyed to the state Department of Land and Natural Resources' Division of Forestry and Wildlife. It will be managed as a forest reserve.

Also set aside is a $345,000 endowment to help pay for its management, along with other commitments to help cover the cost of its care.

The acreage still contains some native birds, including the endangered O'ahu 'elepaio, some of the native tree snails, as well as a couple of dozen endangered plant species.

For the larger community, in addition to being a crucible of rare species, it is a watershed, whose careful management will ensure continued recharge of the Pearl Harbor Aquifer.

Preserving the land and passing it on for perpetual conservation management is a community project, which involved many agencies and individuals, a complex financing scheme. A fact sheet issued as part of today's dedication included this information:

“Creative financing measures facilitated the sale. The Edmund C. Olson Trust provided $4 million of capital for six months to secure the Preserve from being sold on the private market. In the meantime, the Trust for Public Land raised $4.3 million in acquisition funding from three different sources:$2,689,234 from the Army Compatible Use Buffer Program; $627,809 from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Recovery Land Acquisition Program; $982,956 from the Hawai‘i Legacy Land Conservation Fund.

“TPL then bought the land in September 2009 from the James Campbell Company LLC, and through a loan from the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, gave the State of Hawai‘i another six months to finish the project. TPL deeded the land to State in March 2010.

“According to Lea Hong, TPL’s Hawaiian Islands Program Director, 'This was a good financial deal for the State. For less than $1 million in State taxpayer dollars, the people of Hawai‘i got land with an appraised fair market value of $4.3 million thanks to the federal money obtained by our federal Congressional delegation,'she said.

“A public-private partnership is supporting the State's stewardship of the Reserve. The U.S. Army Garrison Hawai‘i will continue to invest more than $500,000 per year to help the state protect the endangered and threatened species in the Reserve.

“In addition, a $345,000 stewardship endowment has been established at the Hawai‘i Community Foundation. The endowment includes a $295,000 donation by The Nature Conservancy, a $25,000 donation by the Gill Family Trusts, and a $25,000 donation by the Edmund C. Olson Trust.”

© Jan TenBruggencate 2010


Doug Carlson said...

Thanks for the nice writeup of this forest preservation effort, Jan. I'm impressed by the military's continuing investment in preservation.

Jean-Paul Gedeon said...

The Native forests are hard to find or access in Hawaii.

I have lived here my entire life and still have only seen a couple.

Jean-Paul Gedeon

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