Large, wet valleys drain the nearly 5,500-foot summit of the Kohala Mountains, supplying the northern end of Hawai`i Island with water for agricultural, commercial, and domestic use.
In 2003, the Conservancy joined together with the area's major public and private landowners to form the Kohala Watershed Partnership, which is working to protect the water resources, watershed functions, and the natural and cultural resources of the forested watershed.
The area managed by the partnership includes 65,500 acres of private and public lands consisting of mountain forests, bogs and streams. These unique ecosystems support native birds, snails and arthropods. They also provide habitat for the endangered hoary bat -- one of only two Hawaiian mammals.
The partners work collaboratively to manage this critically important watershed. A comprehensive watershed management plan guides the partnership's conservation activities, identifying threats as well as resource protection and management strategies.
How the Partnership Will Help the Watershed
Feral animals and invasive plants threaten the quality and quantity of water and the integrity of native forest ecosystems in the Kohala watershed. Other threats include wildfire, aquatic pollutants, human activities and climate change. The partnership has conducted cooperative fencing projects on private ranch lands, and weed monitoring activities within the state-owned Pu`u O Umi Natural Area Reserve. Fencing activities to protect the 30,000-acre core summit area from intrusion by feral animals are planned.
The following groups have worked together to understand and protect the rare and interdependent communities of plants and animals living in this unique ecosystem:
- Hawai`i County Department of Water Supply
- Kahuā Ranch, Ltd.
- Kamehameha Schools
- Laupāhoehoe Nui, LLC
- Parker Ranch, Inc.
- Ponoholo Ranch, Ltd.
- State Department of Hawaiian Home Lands
- State Department of Land and Natural Resources
- Surety Kohala Corp.
- The Nature Conservancy
- Queen Emma Land Company