Honouliuli preservation involves work of many hands

| June 11, 2010 | 0 Comments

Stefanie Gardin
U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii Public Affairs

The 3,592-acre Honouliuli Forest Reserve is home to 39 threatened and endangered species, 16 of which are found nowhere else in the world. (Phil Spalding III | The Nature Conservancy)KUNIA VILLAGE — On the eastern slopes of the Waianae Mountains, there is a “wahi pana,” a “celebrated place,” called Honouliuli. 

Honouliuli is a place of stories. 

Once one of the most fertile spots on Oahu, men fought battles and spilled blood for the rights to use this land. 

The chiefs of Ewa made Honouliuli their home, and from its mountain passes, the goddess Hiiaka first gazed upon the destruction of her friend Hopoe’s forests, by the flames of her sister Pele’s wrath.

From the peaks of the mountains to the depths of the valleys, Honouliuli is shrouded in stories that link Hawaiians to our past and to our future.

Community members and local, state and federal agencies gathered here, June 2, to add another story to Honouliuli’s pages, a story of partnership and preservation.

The Hawaiian proverb, “Aohe hana nui ke alu ia,” or “no task is too big when done together by all,” was the theme as these groups joined together to celebrate the permanent protection of the 3,592-acre Honouliuli Forest Reserve.

The preservation of Honouliuli is multifaceted. 

Not only are there 39 threatened and endangered species living, here — 16 of which are found nowhere else in the world — but there are also numerous cultural sites.

Further, the area is part of the watershed that feeds Pearl Harbor, one of the largest freshwater aquifers on Oahu. 

For these reasons, Lea Hong, Hawaiian Islands program director, Trust for Public Lands, made Honouliuli one of her priorities when she joined TPL in 2006.

“So much kokua (help) went into this project,” Hong said, speaking of the care, assistance and cooperation of the many state, federal and private parties that contributed to the Honouliuli efforts.

TPL’s goal, to conserve land for public enjoyment and benefit, depends in large part on reaching out and forming partnerships.

In the case of Honouliuli, with a price tag of $4.3 million, the Army and others played a key role in financing the purchase.

The Army contributed more than half of the purchase price at nearly $2.7 million, via the Army Compatible Use Buffer program, or ACUB.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service added more than $627,000 to the pot, and the state’s Hawaii Legacy Land Conservation Fund rounded things out with more than $982,000, according to a TPL release.

“From the Army’s perspective, what we’re about is a lot of things … we’re about the mission, doing those things that we need to do to prepare our Soldiers for overseas contingency operations, but we’re also about the environment and our stewardship of the land that’s been entrusted to our care,” Tad Davis, deputy assistant secretary of the Army for Environment, Safety and Occupational Health, said in his remarks. 

“We’re about community, working together, collaboratively, with the many partners that are represented today, in a way that benefits us all,” Davis said.

More than 10 years ago, the Army took its first steps in developing and establishing the ACUB program in an effort to continue training while protecting the endangered red-cockaded woodpecker at Fort Polk, La., according to Dr. Paul Thies, chief, Environmental Planning Branch, U.S. Army Environmental Command.

Since that initial effort, the Army has used ACUB to preserve and protect more than 100,000 acres, nationwide.

Locally, the Army in Hawaii has used ACUB to help permanently protect Waimea Valley, the Pupukea-Paumalu coastal bluff, Moanalua Valley, and now, Honouliuli Forest Reserve, contributing more than $10.3 million to preserve more than 10,000 acres on Oahu.

“What we’re doing here is extremely important to the Army mission,” Davis said. 

“What we’re doing in essence is providing a protective boundary around, in this case Schofield Barracks, to prevent it from future development that might come up against the boundary of the installation and affect training,” he said.

“The other importance of Honouliuli, in particular, is the fact that there’s a lot of endangered species here that we’re helping to manage. There is a direct link between the work we’re doing at Honouliuli and the Army mission,” Davis added.

In order to conduct the various types of training Soldiers need, the Army follows management plans in accordance with the Threatened and Endangered Species Act. 

The bottom line, if there are endangered species on an Army installation, the Army must take action to preserve these species.

In Honouliuli, the Army manages 16 threatened and endangered species and will continue to invest more than $500,000, yearly, to manage these species so that Soldiers can continue to train in current Army training areas. 

Honouliuli Preserve, itself, has been transferred to the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources’ Division of Forestry and Wildlife. 

The division will manage the area as a forest reserve for watershed and habitat protection, as well as community recreation and education.

See more photos on Flickr.

Category: Community Relations, News, Sustainability

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