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MidWeek Staff

Army Partners With State To Fence Off Endangered Forests

By U.S. ARMY GARRISON-HAWAII, PUBLIC AFFAIRS

The Army and the state came together Dec. 5 to transport 7.5 miles of fencing into the Koolau Mountains.

Soldiers from Schofield Barracks joined members of the U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii’s (USAG-HI) natural resources program and state Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) to deliver a fence that will protect 1,000 acres of native forest.

The steel fencing was hooked to a Chinook CH-47 helicopter and sling-loaded from Schofield to staging zones located in a remote area of the Poamoho section of the Ewa Forest Reserve.

“The Chinook’s capabilities allowed us to haul 17 times more material per trip than the contracted aircraft is able, saving time and money,” explained Kapua Kawelo, a biologist with the garrison’s natural resource program.

The fencing project is led by the DLNR, with support from the Army and other members of the Koolau Mountain Water-shed Partnership.

The majority of the $1 million fund for the project was provided by the “Rain Follows the Forest” initiative, with an additional $300,000 provided by the Army and $250,000 from the U.S. Forest Service.

“This is a critical location for watershed recharge to Oahu’s Pearl Harbor aquifer that provides water to Oahu communities. Protecting priority watersheds from damage caused by hooved animals is the first priority of the Rain Follows the Forest program,” said Marigold Zoll, project leader for the Division of Forestry and Wild-life. “Fencing is the most feasible way to prevent these animals from trampling and devouring vegetation and reducing the spread of non-native invasive species.”

The project does not restrict access or recreational opportunities.

Over the next year, Army staff will construct 1.8 miles of fencing, and a contractor will complete the remaining 5.7 miles of the enclosure.

Nine rare plant species and two species of the endangered kahuli tree snail are located inside the Army portion of the fence.

Once the fence is complete, Army natural resources staff will collect and replant the rare seeds and other native plants. They also will monitor and control invasive plants that negatively impact the survival of the native forest.

This is the fifth Koolau partnership fence on Oahu the Army has supported, and it is the first fence project under DLNR’s Rain Follows the Forest program. USAG-HI natural resources program manages more than 100 threatened and endangered species statewide.

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