ʻOhiʻa Rapid Death Prevention Efforts Stepped Up on Kauaʻi

Mar 22, 2019

State officials will post signs on Kauai warning hikers and hunters to stay on established trails and help prevent the spread of disease that kills ohia trees.
Credit DLNR/KISC

State officials are ramping up efforts on Kauaʻi to prevent the spread of diseases that are killing ʻōhiʻa trees.

Three trees were found in December with Ceratocystis lukuohia, the more aggressive of two fungi responsible for the death of the trees in native forests. Since then, 11 more trees have been found with the more aggresive fungus and 15 with the second pathogen, Ceratocystis huliohia.

Department of Land and Natural Resources crews will install signs behind Anahola Mountain on Hawaiian Homelands property warning hikers and hunters against straying off established trails and urging them to be careful that they do not step on roots or cut tree limbs, the department said in a news release.

Beyond the Anahola location, the state plans to post signs at the Moloaʻa State Forest Reserve and on private land near the Līhuʻe-Kōloa Forest Reserve. 

A second version of the sign will go up at Nā Ala Hele trailheads on the island, urging hikers and hunters to brush their shoes before and after they use the trails. Boot-brush stations will also be placed at trailheads.

Other steps that can prevent the spread of the tree diseases, together called Rapid ʻŌhiʻa Death, include:

  • Clean shoes and boots. Brush off soil. Spray footwear with 70 percent rubbing alcohol or freshly mixed 10 percent bleach solution.
  • Pressure wash off-road vehicles to remove dirt before entering forest areas.
  • Wash gear and clothing in hot, soapy water, and dried in dryers if possible. Temperatures exceeding 140 degrees Fahrenheit kill the active spores; freezing will not.

"Weʻre all committed to doing everything possible to stop the spread of Rapid ʻŌhiʻa Death and having this information at our trailheads will definintely help hikers and hunters understand how the simple steps they take now can potentially stop the spread of ROD to additional areas," said Kawika Smith, Kauaiʻs Nā Ala Hele Trails and Access Program coordinator.

More information on preventive steps is posted online by the University of Hawaiʻi College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources.