Date: Wed, 12 May 1999 10:51:49 -1000 From: MR RICHARD A MCMAHON (Richard27@prodigy.com> Subject: Mystery markings in the forest
As I mentioned Monday, George Shoemaker and I headed off yesterday to the back of Kahana Valley to explore a possible trail connection to the newly furbished Waikane Trail. When we got to the far end of the existing trail (map point H on page 156 in Stuart's book), instead of the obscure upper trail he refers to, we found a recently widened, cleared trail, with bright orange circles painted on trees, numbered orange ribbons (not the usual red or pink), and a line of hip chain along the trail. Hip chain Geaorge told me, is a thin, biodegradable string that unwinds from a hip-mounted spool, measuring distance as it unwinds. He also said he encountered exactly the same markings and string along the Wahiawa Hills Trail with the HTMC last Sunday.
Intrigued, we gave up our original plan to follow this newly improved and well marked trail. The route rose gradually, generally following the ridge on the north side of the stream, until it reached an open hill top, about a mile of travel. Here the markings and the hip chain stopped, although the original trail continued. We followed it for a while, but the trail became more obscure and seemed headed off to the side, rather than the back of the valley, so we retraced our steps.
This morning, I called Curt Cottrell of Na Ala Hele, and asked him if he knew what was going on. He informed me that there were exactly the same makrings recently made in Ma'akua Gulch, to include the hip chain, and he had no idea where they came from. Neither his office, nor any other in Forestry had anything to do with it. I then called the Baord of Water Supply and found they had nothing to do with it either.
Does anybody have any idea what this is all about?
To summarize, someone or some agency is
1] clearing existing trails
2] marking them permanently with bright orange circles painted on trees along the route
3] measuring the route using hip chain
4] placing numbered orange ribbons at selected locations along the route. The numbers are not consecutive.
I had heard from a staffer with the DLNR Natural Area Reserve System that some group was contracted (by Feds?) to conduct surveys in the mountains here. The idea is to set up some kind of line or grid for reference, and then check the frequency or density of whatever they're looking for. I believe they're interested in wild pigs, perhaps among other things. We saw similar string and numbered orange tags on the Hau'ula Papali Trail a few months ago. I just tried calling them for further info, but no one was in.
At the last Wahiawa Hills trail-clearing in Wahiawa on April 25, we saw the same broght orange circles painted on trees and a long white thread along the trail which we assumed was the remants of some kind of measuring device used to precisely calculate the length of trail.