A rare opportunity to protect an entire watershed from the Ko?olau Mountains summit to the sea is now one step closer to reality with a $600,000 Acres for America grant awarded to The Trust for Public Land. The purchase of the 3,716-acre Waimea Native Forest property from Dole Food Company will forever protect the upper Waimea ahupua?a. The property houses the headwaters and tributaries of Kamananui Stream, which flows undiverted to Waimea Falls and out to Waimea Bay, and its forested watershed is home to numerous threatened and endangered wildlife and plant species.
Stephen Rafferty, The Trust for Public Land Project Manager, emphasizes the many benefits protecting the forest will have. “The acquisition and protection of Waimea Native Forest will have a direct impact on the health of Waimea Bay, native plant and animal species, O?ahu’s water supply, and public access for recreational and educational opportunities. This grant plays a crucial role in protecting these lands, and we are very grateful to receive it.”
The Waimea Native Forest protection effort is one of only eight projects awarded Acres for America funding across the country this year. Acres for America is one of the most effective public-private partnerships in the history of U.S. conservation efforts. In 2005, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and Walmart teamed up to establish Acres for America to conserve lands of national significance, protect critical fish and wildlife habitat, and benefit people and local economies. To date, the grant has helped to protect more than 1.3 million acres across the country.
“These eight projects represent some of the best of aspects of conservation in America, including the protection of exceptional wildlife habitat, creation of new outdoor recreational opportunities, and the generation of economic benefits to local communities,” says Jeff Trandahl, executive director and CEO of National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. “We are proud to support these projects and appreciative of Walmart’s commitment to help conserve our nation’s unique natural heritage for generations to come.”
Once protected, Waimea Native Forest will be owned and managed by the State of Hawai‘i Division of Forestry and Wildlife (DOFAW). Working with the Ko?olau Mountains Watershed Partnership and other valued partners, DOFAW will coordinate restoration efforts to stem the destruction of forest and ground cover while working toward restoration of habitat for native bird species such as the O?ahu ?elepaio and numerous native plant species.
The Waimea Native Forest protection effort builds upon The Trust for Public Land’s past and current work in the ahupua‘a. In 2006, The Trust for Public Land assisted in the protection of the 1,875 acre Waimea Valley. Currently, The Trust for Public Land is also working to preserve an immensely culturally significant inholding within the valley.
More info about the Waimea Native Forest acquisition efforts here.
The Trust for Public Land creates parks and protects land for people, ensuring healthy, livable communities for generations to come. Millions of people live within a ten-minute walk of a Trust for Public Land park, garden, or natural area, and millions more visit these sites every year. In Hawai‘i, The Trust for Public Land assists local communities to protect lands that serve as trails and parks, encourage Hawaiian land stewardship, and promote our food, forests and water. To support The Trust for Public Land and share why nature matters to you, visit www.tpl.org.