The Department of Land and Natural Resources is looking to fence about 8,500 acres of the Puuwaawaa Forest Reserve and Puuanahulu Game Management Area, according to a letter sent to about 115 stakeholders last month.
The fence construction will enclose about 8.2 percent of the reserve and management area, and will provide a way to avoid and minimize impacts from ungulate grazing and browsing, as well as from people on foot and in vehicles, the early consultation letter for the draft environmental assessment said. Twenty ungulate-proof enclosures, with 6-foot-high hog wire fence, will be built. Hog wire or deer fencing will also skirt the main fences to keep animals from digging underneath, the letter said.
DLNR has just begun the planning process, a spokeswoman said Friday, and public hearings will be held, likely between December and February.
Tony Sylvester, a member of the Hawaii County Game Management Advisory Commission, said via email he supported the plan, with one condition.
“That is the only way we can get (the Division of Forestry and Wildlife) to manage game for hunting,” Sylvester said via email. “My only request is that they make every effort to drive the sheep out of the conservation plots into other areas of Puuwaawaa for sustainable hunting. No eradication!”
That is the officials’ intention, the letter said. DLNR will remove ungulates from the fenced areas, first by trying to drive them out, “but if this method proves ineffective or if time is a limiting factor, animals will be dispatched. DLNR encourages public participation in the early stages of removal efforts. The enclosures will thereafter be monitored at least quarterly for ungulate ingress or fence line damage.”
The fenced areas should be completed within the first five years of the 25-year plan, the letter said, with plans to install the first two enclosures at the Henahena and Aiea units adjacent to the Puuwaawaa Forest Bird Sanctuary.
The plan also proposes monitoring and addressing the impacts of weeds and other invasive animals, including rats and slugs, within the fenced areas. DLNR plans to outplant rare plant species, the letter said.
“These game management activities are essential to enhancing the public hunting and recreational experience at Puuwaawaa Forest Reserve and Puuanahulu Game Management Area,” the letter said. “DLNR strives to provide local communities and the general public with sustainable hunting opportunities while at the same time preserving rare and sensitive Hawaiian natural resources. Timely implementation of this plan should increase the likelihood of recovery of the endangered or threatened species that inhabit the project area and provide a net benefit to the environment, as well as the general public.”
Kailua, Oahu-based Garcia and Associates is conducting the early consultation and drafting the environmental assessment.
A message left with a Hawaii Island-based Natural Area Reserve Specialist for more information on the conservation plan was not returned as of press time Monday.