“Why It Matters” – April Winner!
Ken Kupchak’s post of Hakalau Forest NWR was the April winner. Ken shared that the Refuge is “a place to hang out, contemplate, share with a “Friend” in the most special places around.” Ken is always posting interesting photos of this incredible Refuge so check the Facebook page often.
Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Refuge, established in 1985, consists of 2 distinct parcels. The Hakalau Forest Unit is a 32,830-acre parcel on the windward slopes of Mauna Kea on Hawai’i Island. In 1997 the USFWS purchased 5,300 acres south of Kailua-Kona, on the slopes of Mauna Loa, which became the Kona Forest Unit. In 2019, an additional 10,000 acres were added to the Kona Unit through the purchase of McCandless Ranch lands adjacent to the original parcel, making the total acreage for the Kona Forest Unit 15,448 acres.
The higher elevation Hakalau Forest Unit contains some of the finest remaining stands of native montane rain forest in Hawai’i and habitat for 29 critically endangered species including 7 birds, 1 insect, 1 mammal and 20 plants found nowhere else in the world. Currently, it is the only place in Hawai’i where native forest bird populations are stable or increasing.
The lower elevation Kona Forest Unit is predominantly ‘ōhi‘a (Metrosideros polymorpha) trees with an understory of nonnative trees & shrubs & home to a number of endangered birds, plants & one insect. This area was home to the last wild pair of ʻalalā (Corvus hawaiiensis) in 2002. The primary purpose of this unit is to protect, conserve and manage this native forest for threatened or endangered species.
The Friends organization was established in 2006 and provides vital fundraising, volunteer and advocacy support to help make Hakalau Forest NWR one of the most significant refuges in the National Wildlife Refuge System.
The mission of the Friends of Hakalau Forest (FOHF) is to support the USFWS’s efforts at the Hakalau and Kona Forest Units in terms of preserving, protecting and restoring the biological diversity at both locations, while simultaneously providing opportunity for wildlife-dependent recreation such as birding or photography, education, cultural experiences and scientific research.
FOHF has contributed directly to the quality of habitat at Hakalau Forest NWR by such efforts as providing volunteer labor to propagate and out-plant native trees and rare plants, conducting weed control efforts and by raising funds for the construction of much needed facilities including a 10,000-gallon tank to store water for the plant nursery and a new roof for the Volunteer Cabin.
Congratulations Ken and the Friends of Hakalau Forest NWR!
Hawai’i ‘akepa photo by Ellen Schwene