Hilo Forest Reserve (Laupāhoehoe Section)
The Hilo Forest Reserve (FR) is comprised of approximately 64,000 acres of public land and was established by Governor’s Proclamation on July 24,1905 for the purpose of watershed protection. The reserve is comprised of nine sections in north-east Hawai’i, which are listed in the table below.
The Laupāhoehoe section of the Hilo Forest Reserve was included in the recently finalized Laupāhoehoe Forest Management Plan. Situated on the moist windward flanks of Mauna Kea, the Laupāhoehoe Forest is home to a thriving native ecosystem filled with rich cultural history. Under the state of Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR), Division of Forestry and Wildlife (DOFAW), the Laupāhoehoe Forest consists of two state-managed parcels of land: 4,449 acres of land designated as Forest Reserve (FR), and 7,894 acres designated as a Natural Area Reserve (NAR). The extent is also designated as a demonstration forest for the Hawaii Experimental Tropical Forest (HETF), which provides opportunities for long-term research and learning for the management of tropical forests.
The portion of Laupāhoehoe that is Forest Reserve not only serves to protect key forested watersheds and native species but to also provide recreational opportunities for hiking, traditional and cultural practices, and hunting. A management plan was created specifically for the Laupāhoehoe Forest, addressing a management vision within a time frame of fifteen years. The plan covers aspects from a brief history of the forest area, a description of cultural and natural resources, and proposed management actions for the area.
Game mammal and Game bird hunting opportunities are offered on the six major islands in the State of Hawai‘i: (Kaua‘i, O‘ahu, Maui, Moloka‘i, Lana‘i and the big island of Hawai‘i). Each of these islands has one or more State-designated public hunting areas (called Hunting Units), which are open for hunting at certain times during each year. Game mammal and game bird hunting opportunities are also available on private lands as well. Occasionally, the Division of Forestry & Wildlife (DOFAW) may modify or cancel a hunting season in a particular area to adjust for changes in weather conditions or animal populations.
Division of Forestry and Wildlife Hunting Website
Game Mammal Hunting Rules and Exhibits
Game Bird Hunting Rules and Exhibits
Mountain biking is legal on FR roads unless otherwise posted. There are no legal public access trails suitable for mountain biking that access Blair Rd. within the FR. Accessing roads or trails across private lands to reach Blair Rd. without landowner permission is illegal.
DOFAW manages public hunting on all state lands and hunting in the Laupāhoehoe Forest is regulated by Chapter 13-122,123, Hawai‘i Administrative Rules (Rules Regulating Game Bird Hunting, Game Mammal Hunting). The Laupāhoehoe Forest includes hunting units B and C in the FR and hunting unit K in the NAR (Figure 5). There is a hunter check station at the Spencer Rd. access. DLNR’s Division of Conservation and Resource Enforcement (DOCARE) carries out enforcement of hunting regulations. Current information regarding hunting rules, seasons and bag limits for all game species can be obtained by contacting the DOFAW Hilo office at 19 East Kawili St. Hilo, Hawai‘i, (808) 974-4221.
All persons are required to have a valid Hawai‘i hunting license on their person to hunt or have a bagged game mammal in their possession. Hunting licenses may be purchased online from http://www.ehawaiigov.org/DLNR/hunting/, from any DOFAW office or from any registered hunting license vendor. All hunting license applicants must show proof of having successfully completed a hunter education course that is recognized by the National Hunter Education Association.
Trails within Laupāhoehoe Forest include the following:
Kaluakaukua Trail – The trailhead for this Nā Ala Hele designated trail is on the makai side of the Keanakolu-Mana Rd., 17.7 miles from the junction with Mauna Kea Access Road. The trail is considered moderately difficult and is unmarked and rarely maintained (as described per the official website, http://hawaiitrails.ehawaii.gov/). The trail goes downhill across forested pasture land to a foot gate in the FR boundary fence, then continues to the Dr. David Douglas monument erected in 1934 (approximate death site of Dr. David Douglas, the Scottish botanist for whom the Douglas Fir is named).
Other Trails – Additional trails can be found within Laupāhoehoe Forest, notably Peneki and Spencer trails (Figure 4) as well as other unnamed trails. These trails are not formally recognized as public access trails and are not marked or maintained. These primitive trails were created by the hunting community from the Spencer Road access point and other access points. Trail conditions are hazardous, steep and muddy, and lower elevation portions of the trail within the strawberry guava belt may frequently be ‘tunneled’ in by guava tree windfall.
Maulua Trail – A portion of this historic ranching-era trail goes across the upper section of Laupāhoehoe Forest from the boundary near Shack Camp to Waipunalei. Access to this area is via Blair Rd. This trail is a historic route used for moving cattle in the early 1900s, and it is not maintained or easily visible on the ground. Only a few recognizable sections of the historic trail have been identified.
Waipunalei Trail – This historic trail (also referred to as the Laupāhoehoe – Waipunalei Trail) is depicted on various maps though the trail is not currently visible on the ground and remnants of the historic trail or associated features have not thus far been identified. Maps depict this trail running inland roughly along the Laupāhoehoe and Waipunalei boundary. This trail may follow an older route referenced in Boundary Commission testimonies recorded in 1875 for Waipunalei Ahupuaʻa.