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Posted on Sep 12, 2022 in Latest Department News, Newsroom

(HONOLULU) – In an effort to protect native forests, watersheds, and reefs in southeast Moloka‘i, the DLNR Division of Forestry and Wildlife (DOFAW), in partnership with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and The Nature Conservancy (TNC), purchased five parcels of land in the ahupua‘a of Mākolelau last week, dedicating the land for conservation and restoration.

The purchase was made possible with a $1.8M grant from the USFWS and over $600,000 in private donations to TNC.

Mākolelau is part of a contiguous watershed, designated by the State Commission on Water Resource Management (CWRM) as a Priority 1 Watershed, contributing to the Moloka‘i Sole Source Aquifer. The ahupua‘a’s higher elevations contain intact native forests which are proven to be superior to habitats dominated by introduced species at generating fresh water supplies and reducing erosion that can damage coral reefs.

The fisheries supported by Moloka‘i reefs are an important food source for island residents. Summit to sea planning and management will help protect the state’s longest fringing reef from siltation and storm run-off due to heavy rain events, supporting habitat and marine life. Through conservation management efforts, DOFAW estimates up to four metric tons of soil will be stopped from entering the ocean and washing down current. each year.

“We appreciate our partnerships with the State of Hawaiʻi and TNC,” said Earl Campbell, project leader for the USFWS Pacific Islands Office. “This grant, through Section 6 of the Endangered Species Act, facilitates cooperation with the states and others to protect lands for the conservation and preservation of endangered plants and wildlife in Hawai‘i.”

Proposed restoration actions include controlling feral hoofed animal populations, removing invasive plant species, restoring native ecosystems, and building and maintaining a network of firebreaks, vital to preventing the spread of wildfires.

“We are thrilled to be part of this effort that recognizes the forest as critical watershed for the island and home to species found only in Hawai‘i. This acquisition provides an opportunity to restore native landscape across the ahupuaʻa from mauka to makai, and will benefit the reef,” Ulalia Woodside Lee, Executive Director of TNC, Hawai‘i and Palmyra said.

The Mākolelau ahupua‘a parcels will now link to other conservation lands from east to west and from the summit of Moloka‘i to the sea, providing continuous corridors for endangered forest and sea birds, ‘ōpe‘ape‘a, over 50 native plant species (38 endangered), and ‘o‘opu and invertebrates following streams from sea level to head waters. The parcels are part of the East Moloka‘i Watershed Partnership, in which contiguous private landowners are working on conservation projects.

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(All images/video courtesy: DLNR)

HD video – East Moloka‘i Ground and Aerials (Dec. 9, 2021, Nov. 24, 2020):

Photographs – Mākolelau Ridge to Reef proposal:

Media Contact:

Ryan Aguilar

Communications Specialist

Hawai’i Dept. of Land and Natural Resources

[email protected]