‘Ōuli Park Project – A Dry Forest Corridor Parcel
‘Ōuli Park is a long, linear eight-acre parcel (TMK 3-6-2:007:001) located along Kawaihae Road, approximately three miles west of the town of Waimea on the island of Hawai’i. The parcel, donated by a Waimea resident to Hawai’i County for the purpose of a community park, features Keanu’iomano Stream, the only regularly flowing natural watercourse in West Hawai’i, along its southern boundary. For a long time the land remained vacant and accessible by cattle belonging to the leaseholder of the adjacent State-owned land. Exotic vegetation, including invasive Christmas berry tree, black wattle, and other species encroached the stream course and dominated the park area.
Nāhelehele entered into a Friends of the Park agreement with the County of Hawaii Parks and Recreation Department to start the development of the park area. Nāhelehele’s goal for ‘Ōuli Park is to begin implementing activities identified in the ‘Ōuli Park Management Plan toward the development of a new roadside community park for the recreational, educational and cultural benefit of residents and visitors to Hawai’i Island, as well as the restoration of the native dry forest ecosystem at the park. ‘Ōuli Park is also designated as the western terminus of the Waimea Trails and Greenways’ Ke Ala Kahawai o Waimea, (“The Streamside Trail of Waimea”) which connects to The Waimea Nature Park – Ulu Laʻau.
This streamside trail represents an ideal opportunity to develop a dry forest corridor in the Waimea area and the trail is a priority in the South Kohala Community Development Plan. As the ‘Ōuli Park Management Plan goals are implemented, they will ultimately restore the native dry forest vegetation that will be expanded in the future from the present 8 acres to ~20 acres, and will improve in-stream water quality and aquatic habitat. ‘Ōuli Park is being developed as a demonstration area, showcasing various innovative techniques for watershed best management practices and providing a portal of information to residents, visitors and students to increase awareness of native ecosystems. Grants have been received to develop the Management Plan (completed); construct 2,800 feet of livestock proof fence on the south side of Keanu’iomano Stream (completed); installation of an irrigation system to help the native plants get established (planned for 2019); repair and stabilization of the stream bank (ongoing); and removal of exotic plant species and replacement with native plants (ongoing). Volunteers from the South Kohala community and The Kohala Center are assisting with these projects and an integral and very important part of the ‘Ōuli Park development.