- Associated Press - Tuesday, September 22, 2015

WAILUKU, Hawaii (AP) - State officials are planning to help restore a native dryland forest that once covered leeward areas of Maui.

The state Department of Land and Natural Resources Division of Forestry and Wildlife released a draft management plan for the Nakula Natural Area Reserve earlier this month that includes restoration efforts, The Maui News reports (https://goo.gl/5mgAQs).

The division estimates the reforestation will cost about $209,700 in fiscal year 2016 and $154,700 in fiscal year 2017.

“The intent of projects like those happening in the Nakula (Natural Area Reserve) is to remove invasive plants and animals and then to restore the area to its natural habitat,” said DLNR Chairwoman Suzanne Case. “Native plants play an important role in protecting our watersheds and in providing foraging and nesting habitat for a wide variety of native animals like the Maui parrotbill.”

The 1,500-acre preserve, which begins at the 3,600-foot elevation range on Haleakala’s leeward slope, is home to two endangered endemic native forest birds, the nene, known as the Hawaiian goose, and the pueo, or Hawaiian owl. The endangered Hawaiian hoary bat can also be found there.

The dryland forest once stretched across Haleakala’s leeward slope from Makawao to Kaupo, but has shrunk to about 5 percent of its original size due to logging and cattle ranching.

Conservationists plan to plant native trees, which they have been doing since February 2014, and control invasive species.

The division hopes to partner with local community groups and agencies such as the Leeward Haleakala Watershed Restoration Partnership to complete the restoration.

Written comments on the plan are being accepted until Oct. 2.

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Information from: The Maui News, https://www.mauinews.com

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