East Moloka’i Project Seeks Forest Restoration
By Wendy Osher
Plans are in the works to protect and restore an estimated 15 acres of land in East Moloka’i. The Kainalu Mesic Forest Restoration Project includes the removal of invasive plant species, the planting of native species, and the installation of a 1.5 mile fence to confine cattle and other feral animals to pasture areas.
The proposed project is located on land mauka of the Kamehameha V Highway, between the 1,300 and 1,800 foot elevation. Historically, the land was used for agriculture, cattle, and forest conservation. The land is owned by Lance Dunbar of Kainalu Ranch and is located within the Agricultural and Conservation District.
The Draft Environmental Assessment for the project states that although the area has been preserved for its watershed values, the presence of non-native pigs, deer and goats, has altered the native forest and increased soil erosion rates.
The subject parcel includes habitat for 11 federally endangered native species. The plant and animal species expected to be protected and/or planted are Moloka’i Red Cotton (Kokia cookei), Oha wai (Clermontia kakeana), Lama (Diospyros sandwicensis), Santulum ellipticum, Melicope reflexa, Cyanea dunbarii, Pisonia sp., Gardenia remyi, Prichardia munroi, Pua ala (Brighami rockii), and the Hawaiian Native goose Nēnē (Branta sandvicensis). The project also seeks to protect two upland streams: Welo and Kahawaiiki.
The state has opened a 30 day comment period on its Draft Environmental Assessment.