Hawai'i Considers New Natural Area Reserve

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The Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) will hold a public hearing at 5:30 p.m. on Monday, November 9, to receive public testimony on a proposed new Natural Area Reserve at 'Ilio Point on the northwestern tip of Moloka'i.

The meeting will take place at the Mitchell Pau'ole Community Center conference room at Aiona St. and Ala Malama Ave., Kaunakakai, HI 96748. "We welcome the public's input on this proposal to designate 'Ilio Point as a natural area reserve. This would recognize the area's extraordinary natural resources, and focus management on protecting its natural resources, under the oversight of the NARS Commission,' said Laura H. Thielen, DLNR chairperson.

The NAR nomination and public hearing notice documents are posted on the bulletin board of the Mitchell Pau'ole Center on Moloka'i where the hearing will be held. They are also available online at http://hawaii.gov/dlnr/dofaw/nars/ilio.doc

The proposed 261-acre reserve is meant to protect and help restore a coastal ecosystem that is part of a larger wilderness area. This type of ecosystem merits conservation and restoration effort because coastal areas have been severely modified by invasive species and human activity and development in Hawai'i.

It also contains significant geological features of lithified sand dunes, sea cliffs, and subfossil bird bones and land snails. The State of Hawai'i created the Natural Area Reserves System to preserve and protect representative samples of Hawaiian biological ecosystems and geological formations.

'Ilio Point has long been known for its significant biological and geological features. The coastal vegetation is particularly rich, with 23 native plant species. Some of these plant species are extremely rare and only found in Moloka'i.

The sand dunes and cliffs are predicted to be able to support abundant seabird populations if threats are controlled. The endangered Hawaiian monk seal (Monachus schauinslandi) also has been seen resting at 'Ilio Point.

Any person may testify or present information at the public hearing. Copies of the nomination and a map of the area are available for inspection by contacting Emma Yuen at the DLNR Division of Forestry and Wildlife office, Room 325, 1151 Punchbowl St. Honolulu, Hawai'i 96813 or via e-mail at Emma.Yuen@hawaii.gov.

Anyone who plans to attend this meeting and requires auxiliary aids (taped materials or sign language interpreter) please call 587-4170 to request assistance 10 working days prior to the hearing date.

Persons unable to attend or wishing to present additional comments, may mail written testimony no later than November 20, 2009, to: DLNR Chairperson, attn: Emma Yuen, P.O. Box 621 Honolulu, Hawai'i 96809, or via e-mail at dlnr@hawaii.gov