9,000 Acres at Haleakalā Funded for Forest Watershed Protection
By Maui Now Staff
A state budget bill, signed into law this week, significantly increases funding for forest protection in Hawaiʻi, state officials said.
Here on Maui, projects were selected to protect more than 9,000 acres on the north, east and south slopes of Haleakalā, according to an announcement from the state Department of Land and Natural Resources.
Officials from the DLNR note that on the south slope, more than 90% of the native koa forests have been lost to grazing from hooved animals such as goats, cattle and deer.
The funding will reportedly be used for the protection of the area from such animals, and the removal of invasive plant species.
The funding also includes an allocation for the control of the invasive miconia plant on Kauaʻi, Oʻahu and Maui, and the removal of axis deer from Hawaiʻi Island, officials said.
“The Department of Land and Natural Resources Watershed Initiative remains a top priority and will continue to move forward,” said Governor Neil Abercrombie in a DLNR press release.
“Protecting our mauka forest areas, which contain native plants and animals found nowhere else in the world, is essential to the future of agriculture, industry, and our environment in Hawaiʻi,” said Gov. Abercrombie.
“It is the most cost-effective and efficient way to absorb rainwater and replenish groundwater resources to prevent erosion that muddies our beaches and fisheries,” he said.
Funding for watershed protection in the fiscal biennium budget reportedly includes $3.5 million for the protection of Hawaiʻi’s largest remaining tract of dryland forest, located in Manukā, in Kaʻū district.
***Supporting information courtesy Hawaiʻi Department of Land and Natural Resources.