Report from the Hawaii National Park — Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park is developing a Restoration Plan and Environmental Assessment for former cattle pastures in Kahuku, and is seeking the public’s input.
The 113,000-acre Kahuku area, located on the southern slopes of Mauna Loa in the Ka‘ū District, became part of the park in 2003. Approximately 7,400 acres were used as cattle pastures. Cattle grazing, mechanical clearing, and thick mats of pasture grass have caused the loss of native plants and habitats that the park intends to restore.
Intensive efforts are needed to reintroduce native plants, and could take decades to accomplish. The park has already tested small-scale techniques to restore native species, including a koa seed germination project that shows potential to suppress the growth of pasture grass. Additional experiments are needed to determine the most effective techniques for this large landscape.
Anyone interested in commenting on the development of the Restoration Plan and Environmental Assessment can submit comments online at http://parkplanning.nps.gov/havo, or mail them to the park, Attn: Superintendent, P.O. Box 52, Hawaii NP, HI 96718-0052. Comments must be received by Sept. 10, 2012.
Park rangers lead free monthly hikes to Kīpuka ‘Akihi in Kahuku, a challenging, 1.5 mile trek that offers a look at the native forest that once covered the larger landscape at Kahuku.
Hikers have the opportunity to help protect rare native plants and wildlife in this fragile area by removing invasive non-native plants. The program is limited to 15 people and pre-registration is required. The next hike is set for Sat., Aug. 25 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Call 808-985-6011 to sign up, and for details on what to wear and bring.