Collaboration permanently protects Hamakua forestland

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A tract of forestland home to ohia, koa, hapuu and uluhe on the northeast slope of Mauna Kea will be protected in perpetuity.

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A tract of forestland home to ohia, koa, hapuu and uluhe on the northeast slope of Mauna Kea will be protected in perpetuity.

The Hawaiian Islands Land Trust and property owner Kaye Lundburg via a perpetual conservation easement recently protected the more than 41-acre forestland property situated near the Ookala Cooperative Game Management Area and the Manowaialee Forest Reserve in the Hamakua District.

A conservation easement is a voluntary legal agreement between a landowner and a qualified conservation organization, such as the land trust, that permanently restricts certain activities on the land, and extinguishes development rights, to protect the land’s conservation values (wildlife habitat, scenic vistas, agricultural resources, cultural and historical values, outdoor education and recreation opportunities and water resources, among others).

Landowners who donate a conservation easement to a qualified entity, such as the land trust, maintain ownership of the parcel, and the qualified entity must then uphold the conservation easement, even with future landowners of the subject property.

The now-protected forest features native plants and trees such as ohia, koa, hapuu and uluhe, which provide wildlife habitat.

Lundburg is further working to improve the quality of the forest, which was decimated by grazing livestock and non-native plants and animals, by fencing the land, removing invasive species, such as strawberry guava, and planting more native plant and tree species.

DLNR’s Division of Forestry and Wildlife staff are assisting in the effort, working with Lundberg to develop a 10-year stewardship plan that will protect existing native forest and wildlife habitat while expanding and increasing the diversity of species to more closely reflect what was historically found on the parcel.

In the future, Lundberg hopes to create educational opportunities for schools and the nearby community to show how individuals can restore and protect precious lands.

“The conservation easement honors those who came before us and protects what we have received,” said Lundberg.

The Hawaiian Islands Land Trust is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization formed in 2011 out of the merger of four local land trusts, and it is the first and only nationally accredited local land trust in Hawaii. The trust works to protect the lands that will sustain us for current and future generations.

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To date, HILT has conserved more than 17,500 acres to date via perpetual conservation easements and fee simple. The lands feature scenic views, agricultural resources, wildlife habitats, water resource areas, cultural and historical sites, and outdoor recreation opportunities.

To learn more about HILT and to become a member, visit www.hilt.org.

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