Background

The State of Hawai‘i has approximately 580 watersheds as listed in the Hawai‘i Watershed Guidance (2010). The Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) Division of Forestry and Wildlife (DOFAW) defines Watershed Partnerships statewide, which include both public and private land. There are currently ten* watershed partnerships as shown in the figure at right. 

The Ocean Resources Management Plan (ORMP) addresses watersheds from two different viewpoints, the mauka watersheds that provide the water quantity and the watersheds moving makai that affect the ocean water quality. Ensuring the health of the water supply, allowing for water recharge, and preserving good water quantity entails taking care of the watersheds. Water flows from mauka to makai and ends in the ocean, filling the streams, providing species habitat, and improving coastal and nearshore water quality. Good quality and sufficient quantity of water is needed to feed the island’s reef systems.
Image: DLNR-DOFAW
Benchmark - Where we are now
  • DLNR-DOFAW works with the ten* established Watershed Partnerships made up of large public and private land owners. These partnerships work closely with managers and the five island-based Invasive Species Committees, which are made up of private, public, and nonprofit partners.
  • The Polluted Runoff Control Program (PRCP), also known as the Section 319 Program and administered by the Department of Health (DOH), provides funding to reduce non-point source pollution in priority watersheds. The purpose of the DOH-PRCP is to address water quality problems (impairments) through the development and implementation of watershed plans.
  • Coastal Zone Act Reauthorization Amendments (CZARA) Section 6217 requires Hawai‘i to develop a Coastal Nonpoint Pollution Control Plan (CNPCP). The CNPCP is the responsibility of the State DOH and the Office of Planning (OP) Coastal Zone Management (CZM) Program, and it is jointly administered by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and  National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The Hawai‘i Watershed Guidance (2010) is a streamlined version of EPA’s Handbook for Developing Watershed Plans to Restore and Protect our Waters (2008). Hawai‘i is working towards submittal of final draft management measures to EPA and NOAA.
  • There are 843,000 acres* of the Priority I and II Watersheds statewide, which contain native forests. Currently 16%* of the priority watershed areas are protected and this level of management has taken 40 years to achieve.
  • DLNR’s The Rain Follows the Forest** plan outlines seven watershed protection and restoration actions, which are listed as targets for the Management Priority.
Target - Where we would like to be
  • Remove all invasive hooved animals from Priority I and II areas.
  • Remove or contain damaging invasive weeds that threaten Priority I and II areas. Monitor and control other forest threats including fires, predators, and plant diseases. Restore and plant native species in priority areas and buffer areas.
  • Establish benchmarks and monitor success of the on-the-ground actions.
  • Educate Hawai‘i’s residents and visitors about the cultural, economic, and environmental importance of conserving native forests.
  • Promote consistent and informed land use decision-making that protects watersheds.
  • EPA and NOAA approval of CNPCP.

(*Updated since July 2013)
(**DLNR-DOFAW supports the State of Hawaiʻi's commitment to protecting 30% of our highest priority watershed forests (253,000 acres) by 2030. Since the 2013 ORMP was published, the "30 by 30 Watershed Forests Target" has continued the work of The Rain Follows the Forest plan.)

Increase in acreage of land protected from invasive plant and animal species as well as wildfires through invasive species removal, fencing, integrated pest management, or other strategies

Since 1991, the State of Hawai‘i has participated in the formation of Watershed Partnerships across the state. Watershed Partnerships are voluntary alliances of public and private landowners dedicated to the protection of Hawai‘i’s forested watersheds through collaborative management. These partnerships assist the State DLNR-DOFAW with the management of upland watersheds and work largely in what the State considers “priority watersheds” or places with intact native forest that are the most critical for recharging Hawai‘i’s supply of freshwater.
Watershed Partnerships play an important role in helping DLNR-DOFAW protect and prevent the loss of more native forest by combating the main threats of ungulates (hooved animals such as pigs, goats, deer), controlling invasive species, out-planting native forest species, and building and maintaining protective fences. The Watershed Partnership Program provides technical assistance and financial resources to the partners for the implementation of projects undertaken with watershed management plans negotiated with private landowners.
Additional information about Hawai‘i's watershed accomplishments can be found on the Aloha+ Challenge Dashboard.
Agency: Department of Land and Natural Resources, Division of Forestry and Wildlife
Image: Koʻolau Range, Oʻahu, Getty Images
Videos: 'The Rain Follows the Forest', DLNR, 'Sustaining Healthy Forested Watersheds for Hawai‘i's Communities', DLNR
The Value of Hawaiʻi's Native Forests
Sustaining Healthy Forested Watersheds 

Increase in acreage of native watershed forest protected

Agency: Department of Land and Natural Resources, Division of Forestry and Wildlife
Images: (Above) Native forest - Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park, M. Lander 
(Right) Hawai‘i Invasive Species Council, Miconia (Miconia calvescens). Originally introduced and traded amongst botanical gardens in the early 1960’s, miconia has since spread to Oʻahu, Kauaʻi, Maui, and Hawaiʻi Island. 

Increase in acreage of hooved animal-free fence enclosures 

Like other exotic ungulates, feral hogs destroy planted crops and uproot native plants as they forage.  The installation of fencing prevents hooved animals from infiltrating priority conservation areas.  For more information on the introduction of feral hogs to Hawai‘i, see Texas A&M's lineage study

Hawai‘i's Polluted Runoff Control (PRC) Program participates as a partner in watershed management by funding fencing initiatives and feral ungulate removal projects. The PRC program also contributed to the creation of the Hawai’i’s Watershed Guidance.
Agency: Department of Land and Natural Resources, Division of Forestry and Wildlife
Images: (Above) Boundary Fence - Haleakalā National Park, Mauinow (Right) Feral hog in Hawai‘ian native forest, Kaua‘i Forest Bird Recovery Project
Video: 'O'ahu Watershed Restoration Project', DLNR, and 'Fencing Airlift', DLNR
O'ahu Watershed Restoration Project
Fencing Airlift 

Increase in miles of fence line checked

Protective fencing requires long-term management for effective species control. Remoteness and elevated topography make fence line inspections challenging work.

Agency: Department of Land and Natural Resources, Division of Forestry and Wildlife
Images: (Above) Getty Images, (Right) Hanawī Natural Area Reserve fence construction, MauiNow