On Hawaii Island, a major effort is underway to save a critical watershed
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - As the Red Hill water crisis unfolds, the need to preserve Hawaii’s aquifers is more critical than ever.
That’s why proactive measures are underway to protect a water source on the Big Island.
The state Department of Health has granted more than $230,000 to the Department of Land and Natural Resources and The Kohala Center for preservation work at the Eke Forest, a 600-plus acre area on the Kohala Mountain.
It’s not only home to a slew of native plant and animal species, but also a critical watershed to Hawaii Island, producing billions of gallons of fresh water.
However, feral pigs and non-native plant species are threatening its long-term viability due to soil erosion and loss of ground cover.
Project managers say no action would result in the loss of 378 billions of gallons of fresh water over 50 years.
“We would lose the possibility of the water and the forest coming down the mountain all the way to the ocean and feeding our communities and residents there,” said Cheryl Lupenui, TKC president and CEO. “We would lose any chance of food production again that used to feed well beyond Kohala.”
Over the next four years, the project aims to restore native plant species and a fence will be installed the entire forest perimeter to help control the feral pig population.
State officials say this is a vital work to secure Hawaii’s fresh water future.
“The protection of those forests on adjacent lands and in adjacent areas is even more critical now,” said Katie Roth, hydrologic planning program manager for the Hawaii Commission on Water Resource Management.
“That’s the case statewide. You have to think holistically about the protection of forests. It can’t just happen in one place. Everything works together, everything is connected.”
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