Applicants sought for Hawaii Forest Legacy Program

HONOLULU — The Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) is seeking new projects for its Hawaii Forest Legacy Program that will protect important working forest lands from the threat of conversion to non-forest uses.

The Hawaii Forest Legacy Program works with private landowners, state and county agencies, and conservation non-profit groups to promote sustainable, working forests. Roughly 66 percent of forest land in the state is privately owned, with the majority of private landowners wanting to preserve these forests and leave a lasting legacy.

“With the help of land trusts and conservation-minded landowners, we have been able to protect our important forest resources, preserve forest essential for water production, shelter endangered species, and safeguard our culturally important sites,” said Suzanne Case, DLNR chairperson.

More than 2.5 million acres of threatened private forests in the U.S. have been protected under the Forest Legacy Program, of which 47,000 acres have been protected in Hawaii.

The Division of Forestry and Wildlife is currently working on projects that will protect an additional 3,700 acres of important forested watershed lands through the Forest Legacy Program.

The majority of Hawaii’s projects are conservation easements that allow landowners to retain ownership of the restricted title to their property while providing permanent protection from development or unsustainable uses.

“The national Forest Legacy Program is very competitive with only a few dozen projects funded by the U.S. Forest Service each year,” Case said.

“Hawaii always puts in strong projects that compete well in this national program.”

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The Garden Island

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