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Tourism to Haleakalā National Park Creates Over $47 Million and 536 Jobs in Local Economy

July 20, 2014

A new National Park Service (NPS) report shows that 785,300 visitors to Haleakalā National Park in 2013 spent over $47 million in communities near the park. That spending supported 536 jobs in the local area.


“Haleakalā National Park is proud to welcome visitors from across the country and around the world,” said Superintendent Natalie Gates. “We are delighted to share the story of this special place and the experiences it provides. National park tourism is a significant driver in the national economy – returning $10 for every $1 invested in the National Park Service – and it’s a big factor in our local economy as well. We appreciate the partnership and support of our neighbors and are glad to be able to give back by helping to sustain local communities.”


The 2013 economic benefit figures are somewhat lower than the 2012 results. The 16-day government shutdown in October 2013 accounted for most of the decline in park visitation. The authors also cited inflation adjustments for differences between visitation and visitor spending, jobs supported and overall effect on the U.S. economy.


The peer-reviewed visitor spending analysis was conducted by economists Lynne Koontz of the National Park Service, along with Catherine Cullinane Thomas and Christopher Huber of the U.S. Geological Survey. The report shows $14.6 billion was spent directly by 273.6 million national park visitors in communities within 60 miles of a park. This spending supported 237,000 jobs nationally, with 197,000 jobs found in gateway communities, and with a cumulative benefit to the U.S. economy of $26.5 billion.


According to the 2013 economic analysis, most visitor spending was for lodging (30.3 percent) followed by food and beverages (27.3 percent), gas and oil (12.1 percent), admissions and fees (10.3 percent) and souvenirs and other expenses (10 percent). The largest jobs categories supported by visitor spending were restaurants and bars (50,000 jobs) and lodging (38,000 jobs).

To download the report visit The report includes information for visitor spending at individual parks and by state.

To learn more about national parks in Hawaii and how the National Park Service works with communities in Hawaii to help preserve local history, conserve the environment, and provide outdoor recreation, go to

Five Hawai‘i National Parks to Celebrate Hawaiian Flag Day on July 31

July 19, 2014
Hawaiian flag

The Hawaiia1an flag flies at Pu‘ukoholā Heiau National Historic Site. NPS Photo/Greg Cunningham

Five national parks on Hawai‘i Island and Maui will simultaneously commemorate the first national holiday in Hawai‘i, Lā Hae Hawai‘i (Hawaiian Flag Day), on Thursday, July 31. The event is free, but entrance fees apply at Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park, Pu‘uhonua o Hōnaunau National Historical Park, and Haleakalā National Park.

Hawai‘i celebrated its first national holiday on July 31, 1843, when the Kingdom of Hawai‘i was restored by Great Britain. Kamehameha III, Kauikeaouli, proclaimed, “Ua mau ke ea o ka ‘āina i ka pono,” the life of the land is perpetuated in righteousness. That famous proclamation is perpetuated today as the state motto.

Join the unified commemoration of Lā Hae Hawai‘i on Thursday, July 31, 2014 at Pu‘ukoholā Heiau National Historic Site, Kaloko-Honokōhau National Historical Park, Pu‘uhonua o Hōnaunau National Historical Park, Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park, and Haleakalā National Park from 9 a.m. to noon.

On July 26, 1990, then-Governor John Waihe‘e signed a proclamation making every July 31 Hawaiian Flag Day, and urged Hawai‘i citizens ‘to observe due respect for the flag and the proud tradition for which it stands.’ That same year, Pu‘ukoholā Heiau National Historic Site started an annual tradition of celebrating Lā Hae Hawai‘i (Hawaiian Flag Day), and is one of three sites in the state where the Hawaiian state flag is permitted to fly independent of the American flag. (The other locations are ‘Iolani Palace and the Royal Mausoleum, both on O‘ahu). Kaloko-Honokōhau National Historical Park also began commemorating Lā Hae Hawai‘i in 2010.

The Lā Hae Hawai‘i (Hawaiian Flag Day) ceremony schedule at the Hawai‘i national parks is as follows:

9 a.m.: Participate in pū ‘ohe (bamboo trumpet) demonstrations at the Hawai‘i Island parks.

10 a.m.: Presentations and Q&A by guest speakers about the history of Lā Hae Hawai‘i, and Hawai‘i Pono‘ī, Ua mau ke ea o ka ‘āina i ka pono, and ‘aha ‘āina, the first lū‘au.

Noon: Honor the 1816 flag of Kamehameha I.



Coral Bleaching Monitoring on Guam

July 18, 2014
Measuring coral bleaching

University of Guam students photo surveying corals for signs of bleaching in
War in the Pacific NHP. Photo by D. Burdick.

In response to stresses such as higher water temperatures, corals can lose the symbiotic microscopic algae (which provides up to 95% of the coral’s nutrition) from their tissues causing them to look white or “bleached”. If favorable conditions return, corals can sometimes recover. However, bleached corals are more vulnerable to disease and other stressors, which can lead to death. This worldwide trend of coral bleaching is linked to global warming.

Coral reefs contain some of the most diverse ecosystems in the world and serve as critical habitats for thousands of species of marine organisms. Reefs support fisheries, protect coastlines from storms, and provide recreation. Coral bleaching resulting from higher sea surface temperatures threatens these resources. In 2013, an unprecedented coral bleaching event across Guam and the Marianas Archipelago was correlated with increased sea surface temperatures and reduced wind speeds for a four-month period. As a result, an astounding 85% of coral taxa showed signs of bleaching. This major event prompted the Guam Long-term Coral Reef Monitoring Program, NOAA, Guam EPA, the National Park Service, University of Guam, and Guam DAWR to work together to investigate the issue in an effort to promote coral reef resilience and recovery after such events.

Monitoring the coral reefs is a major activity of the National Park Service Inventory and Monitoring Program. National parks are partnering with research organizations like the University of Guam to study the impacts of bleaching on Guam’s coral reefs.Data from bleaching surveys

Scientists from many stakeholder organizations began formal quantitative  assessments of 3,600 photos from 48 reef  sites on Guam.


Description of Kīlauea Eruptions Started at a Very Opportune Time

July 18, 2014

Pauahi Crater of Kilauea Volcano in 1973. (USGS)

The following is this week’s edition of “Volcano Watch” from the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory.

William Ellis led a team of missionaries on a tour of the Island of Hawaiʻi starting on July 18, 1823, from the village of Kailua. Their trip took them around the southern coast of the island and inland through the east Kaʻū District. When they were in the vicinity of Kapāpala, a short distance northeast of Pāhala, their attention was drawn to some rising columns of “smoke” a few miles away.

The next morning, they decided to investigate and discovered a very recent fissure eruption along the Southwest Rift Zone of Kīlauea Volcano. Later geological studies revealed that the source of this eruption was a 9.2 km-long (5.7 mi-long) fissure that fed lava to the south into the sea. There were no spatter cones built by the eruption, and the lava seemed to have moved quickly. “The inundation was sudden and violent, burnt one canoe, and carried off four more into the ocean” according to William Ellis, chronicler of this island tour.

Fissure eruption in Napau Crater in 1997. (USGS)

A nearby farmer informed them that the fissures opened about “11 moons” earlier, followed by a slight earthquake “2 moons” before their visit. The eruption probably occurred sometime after the earthquake. The area was still too hot for the missionaries to stand for long, so they moved on toward the volcano, Kīlauea.

The next day, August 1, 1823, the group arrived at Kīlauea Crater. “After walking some distance … we … came to the edge of the great crater, where a spectacle, sublime and even appalling, presented itself before us.… Astonishment and awe for some moments rendered us mute, and, like statues, we stood fixed to the spot, with our eyes riveted on the abyss below.”

They were the first to publish a description of Kīlauea Crater. About 150 m (500 ft) below the crater’s rim, there was a “black ledge” of hardened crust extending all the way around the inside of the crater, with the floor a few hundred meters below. At the time of their visit, the floor of the crater “was covered with lava,” probably an active lava lake.

“It was evident that the large crater had been recently filled with liquid lava up to this black ledge, and had … emptied itself into the sea … in all probability this evacuation had caused the inundation of the Kapapala coast … about three weeks prior to our visit,” Ellis wrote. This deduction was very astute.

During repeat visits to the crater over the next two years, the missionaries observed that the level of activity decreased with each visit and that the crater was filling up.

The missionaries had stumbled on a fundamental behavior of Kīlauea volcano: the crater floor subsides and lava drains away, often fueling an eruption along one of its two rift zones, only to slowly refill before the process starts again.

The next of these subsidences occurred early in 1832. Missionary Sheldon Dibble, who resided in Hilo, experienced earthquakes and saw an increase in the glow visible from the volcano. Almost two weeks later, Dibble traveled to the crater and saw what had happened. The bit of crater rim between Kīlauea and Kīlauea Iki Crater (now called Byron’s Ledge) had been “rent by the convulsive throes which shook the whole island.” Lava poured into Kīlauea Iki Crater, and the floor of Kīlauea Crater subsided, just as it did in 1823.

Aerial view of an ‘a’ā lava flow entering the ocean near Kehena on April 4, 1955. (USGS)

The sequence replayed in the spring of 1840 when a voluminous eruption of lava, which started high on the volcano’s East Rift Zone, kept erupting from fresh fissures lower on the rift zone and ultimately entered the ocean north of Kapoho. Again, Kīlauea Crater had filled between 1832 and 1840, and the floor had subsided, coincident with the East Rift Zone eruption. The 1840 eruption was missionary Titus Coan’s introduction to Kīlauea’s sequence.

The same sequence, but on a smaller scale, occurs at the Puʻu ʻŌʻō vent. Over the past several years, the crater floor subsided and refilled, only to subside again, coincident with an outpouring of lava from somewhere nearby. The sequence occurred three times in 2011 and, most recently, on June 27, 2014.

Recognizing this sequential behavior allows us some ability to forecast what volcanic activity might come next, but not when. To improve our forecasts, we continue to look for the clues to help us understand the timing of the sequence.

Visit hvo.wr.usgs.govfor detailed Kīlauea and Mauna Loa activity updates, recent volcano photos, recent earthquakes, and more; call (808) 967-8862 for a Kīlauea activity summary; email questions to

110th Flag Day of the Manu’a Islands

July 16, 2014

Today, Manu’atele community celebrates its 110th year since its cession to the United States of America.

The Manu’a Island group, 96 km (60 mi) east of Tutuila, includes the volcanic islands of Ofu and Olosega (joined by a bridge), and Ta’u. They are sparsely populated — each village has only a few hundred people.

On Ta’u, the national park includes the southeastern half of the island. American Samoa’s tallest peak, Lata Mountain (3,170 feet) lies within the park and overlooks the island’s rainforest and steep cliffs. The national park on Ofu features sand beaches and coral reefs with a mountain backdrop.

Besides their natural features, the Manu’a Islands provide many opportunities to experience Samoan culture.

Seafloor in 3D – New Technology

July 15, 2014

Corals cover less than 0.1% of the ocean floor, yet contain levels of biodiversity that rival the rainforest. Coral reefs support multi-million dollar fishing and tourist industries in Hawaii, provide coastline protection from storms and typhoons, shelter countless organisms, and are the life-line for many families that rely directly on the ocean for sustenance. Worldwide, coral reefs are facing an ever-increasing number of natural and human-induced threats including: pollution, increasing sea-surface temperatures, over-fishing and destructive fishing practices, increasing disease occurrence, and ocean acidification.

coral photos

A diver at Kalaupapa National Historical Park records 3D photos of corals. Photos by S. Lee.

Despite their crucial role, coral reef research and education are still in their infancy. Astonishingly, there are no reliable and cost effective methods of determining coral growth, a basic and essential parameter for understanding the health of a coral reef ecosystem. Furthermore, corals exist in three-dimensional (3D) space, and current methods of measuring coral growth rely on two-dimensional (2D) measurements.

Most corals are inaccessible to anyone who does not SCUBA dive, especially children. Until now, the only way to visualize corals has been to view static pictures or non-interactive films. As a result, public interest in the complexities of coral reefs pales in comparison to other charismatic megafauna such as sharks, whales and dolphins. We must continue to find ways to stimulate coral reef education.

Kalaupapa National Historical Park Project

During the week of May 19-23, 2014 a diverse team of scientists conducted a preliminary experiment examining the use of the latest 3D modeling software by Autodesk, Inc., to model corals for scientific and educational purposes. This revolutionary software, Reality Capture, utilizes photogrammetry (making measurements using photographs), and is the first of its kind. For five days, a team of 8 divers captured Kalaupapa National Historical Park’s coral reefs, gathering more than 2 terabytes of data (over 25,000 photographs). We photo-captured more than 30 corals, as well as 4 dead corals that will serve as the “controls”.  These “controls” will be laser scanned above water to serve as the reference model to which we will compare our 3D models (by comparing our models with the laser-scanned version, we can determine the accuracy of our methodology).

step one of coral 3D project

STEP 1: Multiple pictures are taken around a coral head. The more complex the coral, the more pictures required. Proficient experience in SCUBA diving, underwater photography, and the software are required. Previous 3D modeling methods would require much more equipment including LIDAR (Laser Depth and Range), which is incredibly costly; this method only requires a camera.

Education: In the past, the only way to view a coral reef was through static, 2D photos, film, or in person. This new technology makes coral reefs accessible to people around the world. Educators are well aware that interaction is the key to an enriching learning experience. These interactive models will bring a new dimension to coral reef education and outreach. Ultimately, this technology will enhance the stimulation of an emotional interest to preserve, monitor, and conserve these precious resources.

Science: If this project proves to be successful, a new ability for Inventory & Monitoring Program scientists to accurately measure the surface area of corals over time will be a powerful tool to aid in long-term benthic monitoring efforts.

Step 2 of coral 3D project

Step 2: Individual Images are edited to optimize processing by the modeling software. Elements such as temperature, contrast, exposure, and saturation are adjusted.


step 3 of coral 3D process

Step 3. Images are imported into the software. Grey rectangles in this figure show where each image was taken in 3D space relative to the subject being modeled. The software automatically calculates the vantage point of each photo. It takes 1-2 hours to generate a model, which is superior to previous 3D model rendering methods, which required days to weeks.

step 4 of the coral 3D project

Step 4. The software creates a mesh composed of hundreds of thousands to millions of mesh triangles. Previous 3D modeling software could only produce models with resolutions of a few thousand mesh triangles.

last step (5) of the coral 3D project

Step 5: Models are further post-processed through 3D editing software. The final product is an ultra-high resolution, true-color interactive 3D model. In previous methods, the entire process from photographing features to producing a 3D model took days to months. In this new method, the entire process can be completed in a few hours.

-Sylvester Lee, NPS – Marine Biological Technician

You can visit this interactive model at:



Fireside Chat at War in the Pacific National Historical Park

July 13, 2014

Seventy years ago the island of Guam witnessed one of the major battles of World War II as American forces attacked the island to retake it from the Japanese military. The weeks of fighting on the island would alter the lives of thousands.

So that we might better understand their experience, War in the Pacific National Historical Park on July 19th will hold a “fireside chat” at the Asan Beach Unit of the park.

This event, scheduled from 6:15 pm to 9:00 pm, includes returning American veterans and island manamko experiences of the battle. Music from the war period will play throughout the evening, a photo montage of historic scenes will be shown alongside a video prepared for the ceremony, and local survivors of the occupation and veterans of the battle (including two Navajo code talkers) will share their experiences.

We would like to cordially invite you and your family to this commemorative event allowing us to reflect upon the 70th Anniversary of the Battle of Guam (1944).

70thPoster copy


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