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Went up there on Tuesday and were stopped by the Fire Chopper in the road. They told us that the flames were 300 ft high THAT day. A fireman friend of mine said it's allo around Mamane and Waiohuli.

5,937 Posts
Discussion Starter · #9 ·
For Immediate Release: April 25, 2007


WAILUKU -- In the aftermath of one of the most devastating wildfires to have occurred for many decades in Hawaii -- burning 2,300 acres in the Kula Forest Reserve between January 23-February 5, 2007 -- the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) is carrying out a program to remove hazardous trees and implement a major reforestation plan.

After the fire was under control, DLNR closed the Kula Forest Reserve, and Polipoli Springs State Park, including Waipoli access road, to all activities due to concerns for public safety from burned trees that were falling or hazardous, and to ensure that smoldering spots were extinguished. DLNR has since been working in the area to mitigate these hazards by inspecting and removing hazardous trees, repairing trail and road grades and initiating fence repair work.

DLNR now estimates that the Waipoli access road can be made safe and the reserve reopened for public access by the beginning of July.

DLNR's Division of State Parks will then resume issuing permits for the cabin at Polipoli Springs State Park The park cabin was unharmed, thanks to a fire safety zone around it that had been created for just this purpose.

"We want to remind the public that we are dealing with a large area of dead standing trees and burned ground cover where the environmental impact has been severe. We know that people have been calling to ask when they can go back in. We are asking for the community's patience while we carry out this first phase of the forest recovery work. We have a big job ahead of us for recovery that we are eager to undertake," said Peter Young, DLNR chairperson.
"Unfortunately there have been two recent instances of vandalism - the hunter check-in station was burned down last Friday night, and someone recently broke into the Polipoli cabin and rode a dirt bike around inside," Young said.

Wildfires leave the land vulnerable to soil erosion, destroy or degrade habitat for many plant and animal species, create a public nuisance through the presence of partially burned or hazardous trees, and create unsafe conditions for public access.

Forest restoration measures will aid in the prevention of long term soil erosion and nuisance abatement through the removal of hazardous trees resulting from wildfire.

"Mitigating the severe impacts of the upper Waiohuli forest fire presents many challenges and opportunities for our department to restore the forest environment over decades, and apply new concepts for sustainable management," said Young.

"The scope of our activities right now involves salvage recovery of lumber and woody biomass from dead or dying trees to control remaining fire hazards and provide a fire break corridor along forest reserve roads and trails. It includes restoration of fence, road and trail infrastructure. And will call for intensive restoration efforts at a scale that has not occurred on public lands in Hawai'i for over 25 years. Down the line we are hoping to get the public's help." he said.

Emergency funding is necessary to facilitate salvage recovery of lumber and woody biomass from dead or dying trees to control remaining fire hazards; restore fence and road infrastructure; and carry out intensive reforestation.

DLNR has requested and Governor Lingle recommended to the Legislature, an increase in its fiscal year 2007-2009 biennium operating budget to mitigate public safety hazards and restore critical ecosystem functions of the Kula Forest Reserve. The increase of $2.64 million in fiscal year 2008 will go to implement hazard reduction for forest site preparation and tree planting on 1,800 acres.

The increase in the fiscal year 2007-09 operating budget will enable DLNR to plant and protect over 250,000 tree seedlings that are required to replace the destroyed forest at Kula Forest Reserve.

DLNR concurrently requested an emergency transfer of $1.84 million from general funds to supplement its depleted firefighting contingency fund for the remainder of fiscal year 2007 and to address immediate public safety issues and reforestation actions.

Since July 1, 2006, state and county firefighters have fought 17 wildfires on four islands, which damaged or destroyed approximately 18,436 acres of land, thereby exhausting funds for fighting wildfires. The National Weather Service has forecast that Hawaii should expect drier than normal weather this year, which significantly increases the risk of wildfires in Hawaii.

# # #

For more information, media may contact:
Deborah Ward
DLNR Public Information Specialist
Phone: (808) 587-0320

5,937 Posts
Discussion Starter · #10 ·

Summary: In terms of size and intensity, the Upper Waiohuli fire, as it is known to firefighters, was one of the most devastating to have occurred for many decades in Hawaii.
The burn unit was dominated by mature forest comprised primarily of pines, cypresses, and redwoods. Approximately 500 acres within the burn unit were subject to relatively lighter fire intensities - - these areas are anticipated to recover. Approximately 1,800 acres were severely burned with little remaining live vegetation.

DLNR’s principle objectives now are to:
- Protect and stabilize soils that are now destabilized and prone to erosion.
- Control the onslaught and impact of invasive species which are likely to colonize this newly opened site. For example, as vegetation returns to the mountainside, some of the grasses are coming back, along with about 300 acres of blackberry which needs to be brought under control.
- Re-establish recreational values to these lands that were formerly a very important and highly used recreational area (e.g. hiking, hunting and bicycling) for the residents of Maui.
- Restore important hydrological and ground water benefits that the burned upland forested watershed formerly provided.
- Enhance native species habitat and native ecosystem recovery.

Scope of Proposed Work:
Hazard tree and biomass survey and removal to protect public safety and reduce risk for future fires.
A survey of residual trees that now present hazards along roads, trails, fences and other infrastructure will facilitate their removal. Approximately 280 to 300 trees have been marked for hazardous tree removal along the 13.3 miles of trails. In addition, approximately 6.5 miles of roadway will also need to have corridors cleared of hazardous trees.
Furthermore, surveying and clearing vegetation in a buffer zone along the primary forest reserve access road will helps create an important fire break to assist in future fire suppression efforts in this steep area. DLNR-Forestry staff conducted the field survey and data/map analyses.
Following the survey, felling and/or removing identified hazardous trees and biomass are now being conducted by a DLNR 5-person crew and contracted services.
The timber salvage operations taking place along the Kula access road corridor will take approximately 4 months. These operations are being conducted by local loggers and woodworkers and lumber will be used in the local economy for house construction and woodworking.

Fencing: Procurement of fence materials, repair of existing fence lines and building of new fences will be done by DLNR crews and contracted services for public safety and to protect planted seedlings in the reforestation area from damage by ungulates (sheep, deer, horses, pigs etc.).

Site preparation and tree planting: In areas readily accessible by machinery, residual brush and woody debris will be chipped to reduce wildfire fuel loads. In steeper areas, such debris will be removed from seedling planting points. Dead standing trees that pose a hazard to public safety or infrastructure will be felled. Digging tree-planting holes and planting tree seedlings will be conducted mechanically, by hand or a combination of the two methods.
Approximately 65 percent of the 1,800 acre reforestation area will be planted in native trees and shrubs (a koa, ‘ohia, mamane, naio and ‘a‘ali‘i mixture) and 25 percent redwoods, and 10 percent grass/shrubland areas, respectively with the intent that the seed source be of Maui origin, preferably the Kula area. Grass shrubland areas are intended to provide cover and allow forest openings for wildlife and game habitat. This mix of native trees and conifers is intended to encourage diversity and strike a balance between a native forest ecosystem and the redwood forest that people enjoy.

Road repair: Impacts of fire suppression equipment in addition to those anticipated to occur during timber salvage and reforestation operations will collectively leave the primary access road to Kula Forest Reserve and the Polipoli State Recreation Area in need of repairs. Bulldozers will be used for grading and applying gravel, selected paving of high impact points and installation of water bars, culverts and other drainage features. Road repairs will be done by DLNR crews and contracted services.

Plantation maintenance: After initial plantings are complete, estimated in June 2009, supplemental planting to replace seedling mortality, rodent control, weed control and fertilization programs will be will be needed for several years to ensure survival of tree seedlings and forest establishment. Maintenance will be carried out by DLNR crews and contracted services.
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