WAIMANU VALLEY, Hawaii – The Kohala Forest Reserve could grow by 3,431 acres if the Board of Land and Natural Resources approves a plan to re-designate the parcels around Waimanu Valley. Once part of the National Estuarine Research Reserve System (NERR) administered by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the valley has been in a sort of limbo since NOAA dropped the NERR designation in 1996.
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Background: In 1972, the United States Congress enacted the Coastal Zone Management Act (CZMA) to address the continued growth that was occurring in the coastal zone nationwide. The CZMA also created the National Estuarine Research Reserve System, which is administered by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The reserve system is a partnership between NOAA and coastal States for long-term research, water quality monitoring, education and coastal stewardship.
A National Estuarine Research Reserve (NERR) was establish at Waimanu Valley on the Kohala Coast of the island of Hawai‘i in 1978 (Exhibit D). At its April 11, 1975 meeting under agenda Item F-9, the Board approved the acquisition of various privately owned parcels of land in Waimanu Valley for the estuarine sanctuary. On April 12, 1990, the Board approved the withdrawal of public lands from the Kohala Forest Reserve for inclusion into the NERR and in the same board action set-aside both the public and private lands (13 parcels were acquired by the State) as the Waimanu NERR. Subsequently, EO3548 was issued withdrawing TMKS (3) 4-9-001: por. 007, (3) 4-9-013: por. 001 and (3) 4-9-014:010, comprising approximately 3381.35 acres from the Kohala Forest Reserve, and EO3555 was issued setting aside TMKS (3) 4-9-001:por. 007, (3) 4-9-013: por. 001 and (3) 4-9-014:001, 003-005, 008-011, 013-014, 017, and 020-022, comprising approximately 3543.48 acres, including a “Portion of the submerged area of Waimanu Bay” to the Division as the Waimanu NERR.
In 1996, Waimanu Valley was officially withdrawn by NOAA from the NERR System due to budget related issues that affected the State’s ability to comply with the requirement and regulations governing the program.
Discussion: Since the withdrawal of Waimanu Valley from the NERR System by NOAA, staff has been unable to locate documentation cancelling EO3555 which established the NERR. Under the current set aside, the NERR designation threatens to jeopardize effective management, planning and related enforcement activities due to a lack of applicable rules and statutes. Changing the designation of these parcels to forest reserve would place the area under broad forest reserve management guidelines and afford it the protection of the statutes and administrative rules that exist for the Forest Reserve System.
Therefore, the Division seeks the cancellation of EO35 55 , to be replaced by a new EO incorporating TMKs (3) 4-9-001: por. 007, (3) 4-9-013: por. 001 and (3) 4-9-O14:oOl, 003-005, 008-011, 013-014, 017, and 020-022, comprising approximately 3431.48 acres (Exhibit E), excluding the portion of submerged area of Waimanu Bay, into the Forest Reserve System as part of the Waimanu section of the Kohala Forest Reserve.BLNR submittal
The designation – in concept – was set for a vote at the land board meeting on Friday. According to the recommendation from staff of the Department of Land and Natural Resources, the proposal should first go to public hearing.