KOKEE, KAUAI (HawaiiNewsNow) - A large forest of Koa trees on Kauai once burned by a wildfire is finally getting restored. It's an enormous replanting endeavor that is all being done by hand.
"Looks good, looks really good," said one of the workers.
One seedling at a time, a team of about three to four workers are rebuilding Kokee Forest. The forest was scorched by a wildfire back in 2012. For the last few weeks, a large excavator has been digging hole after hole preparing the ground for replanting.
"50 acres to be planted, so that's roughly 20,000 trees, 400 to 500 trees per acre," said Dustin Hirota, with Forest Solutions.
It's phase three of state efforts to restore the forest. Last year during phase two of the project, the state cut down 15,000 tons of dead, eucalyptus and pine trees on 300 acres of the forest reserve. That is now being used to produce electricity at a new, biomass plant outside Lihue that supplies 12-percent of Kauai's energy needs.
"That's why we're in this industry, trying to restore," said Hirota.
The seeds for the plants were collected on site and then sent to a nursery on Maui, where they were grown.
"There's a lot of the local community around that we mentioned to them what we're doing and they're very appreciative so it makes our work better," Hirota said.
Hirota said they planted just over 1,000 seedlings on Tuesday.