Native Hawaiian plants suffering due to demonstrators atop Mauna Kea, says DLNR
Thursday, the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) Division of Forestry and Wildlife Offices in Hilo held a press conference regarding concerns about native plants being negatively impacted by the human presence currently around Pu’u Huluhulu and the Mauna Loa Forest Reserve.
Officials say officers from DLNR Division of Conservation and Resource Enforcement have detected endangered plants that were trampled in the recent weeks. They said that the 'anunu vine was destroyed -- which has only about five populations still in existence, and is an endangered plant.
A DLNR spokesperson said they warned of the potential dangerous impacts to the species before the demonstrations began in July.
"Intentional or not, this damage is happening and it's very concerning," said one DLNR spokeswoman.
An officer said that just after the Damien Marley concert, police observed hundreds of people on the Pu'u -- which they say was a cause for concern as they have seen damage and plants disappear. He said officials found several areas after the concert that may have been impacted.
A witness told police that 'anunu vines were taken off a koa tree -- which were cut or broken off. 'Anunu only grows on Hawaii Island.
Nene have also been said to avoid the area. Officials area asking the public not to feed them, and that invasive species are also a concern, such as fire ants.
DLNR says the only way to mitigate the problem is for people to leave the area.
An officer said that the focus is to have the plants thrive in their own natural habitat. When asked, the officer said they would be open to working with demonstrators in the area to ensure plant growth continues.