Maui News

3,721 Acres of East Maui Rainforest Added to Waikamoi Preserve

April 25, 2014, 10:14 AM HST
* Updated April 25, 2:30 PM
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EMI parcel map, courtesy Nature Conservancy.

EMI parcel map, courtesy Nature Conservancy.

By Maui Now Staff

An estimated 3,721 acres of undeveloped rainforest is being granted to The Nature Conservancy as a conservation easement, under an agreement that will create the largest private nature reserve in Hawaiʻi, organization representatives said in an announcement.

East Maui Irrigation Company, a subsidiary of Alexander & Baldwin, closed on the agreement, which nearly doubles the size of the 5,230-acre Waikamoi Preserve to a nearly 9,000-acre protected parcel, the joint announcement said.

“This area has been one of The Nature Conservancy’s highest priorities for more than two decades,” said Mark White, director of the Conservancy’s Maui Nui Program in the joint announcement.

According to White, “The land lies at the core of the 100,000-acre East Maui watershed and is one of the most intact pieces of native forest in the state. Now, thanks to A&B and EMI, it will continue to be protected in perpetuity,” he said.

Scenic Hāna Highway. File photo by Wendy Osher.

Scenic Hāna Highway. File photo by Wendy Osher.

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According to the announcement, EMI granted to The Nature Conservancy a conservation easement giving it management control of the adjacent land, which is located high above Makawao between the 3,600- and 9,500-foot elevation.

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“The US Fish and Wildlife Service Recovery Land Acquisition Program, through the State Department of Land and Natural Resources, funded up to 75% of the acquisition costs,” the announcement said.

The easement was valued at $190,000, and A&B offered the parcel at a discounted price of $142,500, donating a required 25% ($47,500) in matching private funds, according to the Nature Conservancy.

“For over 140 years, EMI has been dedicated to being a good steward and protecting these lands,” said Garret Hew, president of EMI in the joint press release. “This agreement gives us an opportunity to again partner with The Nature Conservancy, which has the expertise and capacity to enhance the protection of this important natural resource.”

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According to the Nature Conservancy, the rainforest is home to some 20 threatened or endangered native plants, and rare forest birds including: the ʻakohekohe, or crested honeycreeper and the kiwikiu, or Maui parrotbill.

White said the Conservancy’s first step will be to establish a three-mile $600,000 fence to protect the area from damage caused ungulates like pigs and cattle.

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