Skip to content

Meet our volunteer, Cabel Patterson!

June 30, 2015
Caleb holding a nēnē. NPS

Caleb holding a nēnē. NPS

What drew you to volunteer at Haleakalā National Park, Why have you come back for repeat seasons? I was drawn to volunteer at Haleakalā National Park because I wanted to gain work experience in the field of nature conservation and resource management. My position of wildlife management intern enabled me to do this while helping out with conservation projects that are important to me. The unique environment of Haleakalā appealed to me as well.

What type of work or projects have you done for the park and how did they help the park achieve their mission/goals? As a wildlife management intern, I primarily worked on controlling introduced predators that prey on endangered nēnē and ‘ua‘u. I also monitored nēnē and ‘ua‘u for nesting and reproductive activity. While doing this work I was able to spend a lot of time outdoors checking predator traps, looking for signs of ‘ua‘u nesting activity among the cliffs, and surveying the park for nēnē. This helped the park achieve its goals of protecting endangered species and controlling non-native pests. DSC00100 Why would you recommend people to volunteer here at Haleakalā National Park? Volunteering at Haleakalā was a great experience for me. Some of the work was not glamorous, but it was meaningful and supported the cause of nature conservation, so I was happy to do it. I spent most of my days working outdoors in a beautiful, unique environment. The different settings in the park, such as the cliffs around the summit, the floor of the crater, and the historical non-native forest, kept things interesting. I worked with several highly experienced wildlife biologists who were happy to share their knowledge about all aspects of wildlife management and the paths they took to get to where they are in their careers. I also met dozens of dedicated, professional people from all career backgrounds who work for the park or some of its affiliates. Learning about the inner workings and structure of the NPS was a great benefit for someone like me who is considering pursuing a career with a federal conservation agency. IMG_1755 Any other things you would like to add in to share with the public about yourself, volunteer service work, work experience? Helping to protect endangered species is meaningful work that any nature lover will appreciate. I am proud to have done this at Haleakalā and I hope to somehow support this cause again in the future. Volunteering at Haleakalā was an excellent way for me to learn more about the different types of positions within the NPS and more about nature conservation work in general. I am grateful for the experience and I believe that no matter what career path I end up choosing for myself, I will be better prepared for it because of the time I spent at Haleakalā. If you are interested in volunteering opportunities here at Haleakalā National Park, please visit for more information.

Do Your Part!

June 23, 2015


Last Friday, all of the national park staff picked-up trash along the road and harbor near the visitor center and headquarters. It’s part of our continued efforts to help keep American Samoa beautiful and to educate about the importance of putting trash in bins. Trash not only looks bad, but it also harms wildlife and coral reefs.

Before and after photos show our efforts to clean-up a stream. Do your part, wherever you live, to keep your special places trash free!

Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park July 2015 Hawaiian Cultural & After Dark in the Park Programs

June 20, 2015

Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park continues its tradition of sharing Hawaiian culture and After Dark in the Park programs with the community and visitors in July. All programs are free, but park entrance fees apply. Programs are co-sponsored by the Hawai‘i Pacific Parks Association, and your $2 donation helps support park programs.  Mark the calendar for these upcoming events:

‘Ohe Kāpala. Learn to craft beautiful designs on a bamboo stamp to embellish cloth. Join staff from Hawai‘i Pacific Parks Association who will share the traditional art of ‘ohe kāpala, bamboo stamping. Part of Hawai‘i Volcanoes’ ongoing ‘Ike Hana No‘eau “Experience the Skillful Work” workshops. Free.
When: Wed., July 8 from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.
Where: Kīlauea Visitor Center lānai

Ranger Rebecca helps keiki learn about ohe kapala, or bamboo stamp art. NPS Photo/Jay Robinson

Ranger Rebecca helps keiki learn about ohe kapala, or bamboo stamp art. NPS Photo/Jay Robinson

How Do We View Kīlauea? Join us for a deliberative discussion with Kumu Hula Manaiakalani Kalua and historian Philip K. Wilson, on Kīlauea’s place in Hawaiian culture and the history of science, and where the two perspectives intersect and encounter one another. Manaiakalani Kalua is a kumu hula, and a faculty member of the I Ola Haloa, Center for Hawai‘i Life Styles, Hawai‘i Community College. Philip K. Wilson is professor of History at East Tennessee State University, and has been a visiting professor at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa.  One of his interests is in Hawaiian history, comparing the significance of the volcano Kīlauea during the 19th century from the perspectives of naturalists, missionaries, and native Hawaiians. This program is co-sponsored by Hawai‘i Council for the Humanities, and University of Hawai‘i at Hilo, and funded in part by the Sidney Stern Memorial Trust. Part of Hawai‘i Volcanoes’ ongoing After Dark in the Park series. Free.
When: Tues., July 14 from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Where: Kīlauea Visitor Center Auditorium

Halemaumau aglow

Kīlauea volcano’s summit eruption from Halema‘uma‘u with Jaggar Museum and USGS HVO. NPS Photo/Janice Wei

Hawaiian Ethnobotany.  Learn about the uses and cultural importance of native plants and introduced Polynesian plants in Hawai‘i.  Join rangers from Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park as they share their knowledge and love of Hawaiian culture. Engage in this hands-on event and leave with treasured ‘ike (wisdom) and a handmade Hawaiian craft of your own.
When: Wed., July 22 from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.
Where: Kīlauea Visitor Center lānai

weaving lauhala

Lauahla weaving, one of many uses of native and indigenous plants in Hawai‘i. NPS Photo/Jay Robinson

Halema‘uma‘u Lava Lake of Old

June 19, 2015

Volcano Watch ( is a weekly article and activity update written by scientists at the U.S. Geological Survey`s Hawaiian Volcano Observatory. 

The dramatic opening of the Overlook crater within Halema‘uma‘u Crater on March 19, 2008, heralded a new period of activity for long time Kīlauea Volcano watchers.

Halema‘uma‘u in 2008.

Halema‘uma‘u in 2008. Photo/Charlene Meyers

Over the next several years, nearly continuous eruptive activity formed an active lava lake in the new crater. An active lava lake is one that overlies its vent, which constantly supplies lava to the lake and drains lava from the lake. This circulation keeps lava in the lake hot and also generally keeps it from spilling from the crater. An active lava lake contrasts with a “passive” lava lake, which is simply a pool of lava formed when lava flows into a depression.

The active lava lake in Overlook crater is now the second largest lava lake on Earth, about 170 m by 220 m (560 ft by 720 ft) across. The lake is more than 100 m (328 ft) deep and Overlook crater itself deepened by 8 m (26 ft) in late April and early May 2015, when overflows onto the floor of Halema‘uma‘u built the rim higher.

Visitors to the summit of Kīlauea are now accustomed to the spectacular nighttime glow above the lake as it rises and falls in concert with summit inflation and deflation, as well as with expansion and episodic escape of gas bubbles.

Although relatively new to most of us, churning lava lakes are certainly not new to Halema‘uma‘u Crater. Indeed, from 1823 through 1924, a lava lake (or lakes) was nearly always present in the caldera, generally inside Halema‘uma‘u. Short-lived lava lakes played in Halema‘uma‘u several times between 1924 and 1968. Much of the time, however, visitors witnessed a scene quite different from today.

Halema‘uma‘u lava lake, circa 1918

Looking southwest across the surface of Halema‘uma‘u lava lake on January 23, 1918. Jagged “crags” of stranded, solidified lava rise as much as 30 m (100 ft) above the surface of the lake. A natural levee separates the smooth surface of the active lava lake from overflows of pāhoehoe in foreground. Photo by Thomas A. Jaggar, Jr.

As one example, this nearly century-old print shows Halema‘uma‘u when much more of its floor was covered by a lava lake compared to today. Towering bodies of solidified lava called “crags” rise above the lake surface like battleships on the sea. At times these crags were so high that they could be seen by spectators at the old Volcano House nearly 3 km (2 mi) away. Visitors could sometimes view lava fountaining and hear noises of splashing lava from the hotel. Today, the clatter of breaking and falling rocks is, with favorable wind, audible outside Jaggar Museum, and the overflows in April–May were visible from many caldera vantage points.

In the early 1900s, the lava lake inside Halema‘uma‘u resembled a dynamic body of water in many ways. Thomas A. Jaggar, founder of the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, used terms such as cove, bay, and inlet to describe lava pools and other features in the lake. The lava lake was typically impounded by levees made by overflows of lava from the lake, just as overflows of silt-laden water create levees along the Mississippi River.

This photograph shows what was known as the Southeast Crag, an 11-m- (36-ft-) high peak of solidified lava that had been twisted and tilted upward. As of yet, we’ve not seen any similar features developed in the current lava lake within Overlook crater. This may be because the present lake is impounded by the walls of Overlook crater, not by its own natural levees, which can change configuration and location with time. If such self-impoundment should develop in the Overlook lava lake, we may once again see crags, bays, and inlets.

We will share more of the rich photographic record of Halema‘uma‘u lava lakes from the last century in future Volcano Watch columns.  Although they lack the vivid and mesmerizing colors of modern photographs, there is a stark beauty in these crisp, black and white scenes of lava in its myriad forms that we find equally compelling.

Halema‘uma‘u at night from Jaggar Museum

The evening glow of the lava lake from Jaggar Museum observation deck. Lava overfilled the vent rim in Spring 2015, and spilled onto the floor of Halema‘uma‘u Crater. This photo was taken May 14, 2015. Photo/Alex Werjefelt

Kīlauea Activity Update
Kīlauea’s summit lava lake level fluctuated over the past week with changes in summit inflation and deflation, but remained well below the rim of the Overlook crater. During the past week the lake ranged between 40 and 65 m (130–210 ft) below the current floor of Halema‘uma‘u.

Kīlauea’s East Rift Zone lava flow continues to feed widespread breakouts northeast of Puʻu ʻŌʻō. Active flows remain within about 8 km (5 mi) of Puʻu ʻŌʻō.

One felt earthquake was reported on the Island of Hawai‘i in the past week. On Friday, June 12, 2015, at 1:07 p.m., HST, a magnitude-2.3 earthquake occurred 8.0 km (5.0 mi) east of Waimea at a depth of 13.0 km (8.1 mi).

Please visit the HVO website ( for past Volcano Watch articles, Kīlauea daily eruption updates and other volcano status reports, current volcano photos, recent earthquakes, and more; call (808) 967-8862 for a Kīlauea summary update; email questions to

Park Summit Road To Close During Wide Load Transport

June 18, 2015

Crater Road (Rt. 378) and Haleakalā National Park’s summit road will close to visitor traffic while a slow moving convoy transports extremely wide loads to the Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope near the volcano’s summit. The roads will be closed to visitors from 10pm on Wednesday, June 24, through 2pm on Thursday, June 25. The summit will not be accessible for Thursday sunrise viewing.

Back country permits will be given out at Headquarters Visitor Center (at 7000 feet of elevation), from 2pm-4:30 pm on Thursday. However, backpackers planning to hike into the crater on Thursday are strongly urged to obtain their permits a day in advance. Visitors who paid an entrance fee on Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday (June 23, 24, 25) will have a one-day extension on the usual three-day pass. The extension will apply to both the Kīpahulu and Summit Districts.

Although the park road to the summit will re-open at 2pm on Thursday, the Haleakalā Visitor Center (at 9740 feet of elevation), will remain closed all day.

The Advanced Technology Solar Telescope (ATST) Project is located outside of park boundaries. The convoy’s travel through the park is being allowed via Special Use Permit.  The convoy will transport an 18-foot wide load and travel at 2 to 5 mph. The road precautions are in place due to the size of the convoy and narrowness of the roads. The convoy will include three semi-truck trailers and various support vehicles.

National Park Offers Free Saturday Hikes

June 15, 2015

The National Park of American Samoa will offer free ranger-led Saturday hikes from late-June through mid-September. Free shuttles will transport hikers from Pago Pago to the trails. Interested participants are required to sign up in advance.  
These hikes provide participants with opportunities to experience their own local national park within lush tropical rainforests with vistas that overlook Tutuila. National park rangers will lead these hikes and share a variety of fun topics about the natural and culture wonders of American Samoa.

“We look forward to welcoming residents and visitors to their national park,” said Chief of Interpretation and Education Michael Larson. “These hikes begin our celebration of the National Park Service’s centennial celebration from now through 2016. It’s a chance for everyone to get outside to explore, connect, and find your national park.”

Space is limited to 28 participants per hike. Sign up is required by phone at 633-7082, ext. 22 or email

These Saturday hikes are made possible through the generous support of the national park’s non-profit partner—the Hawai‘i Pacific Parks Association (

Superintendent Scott Burch Arrives to Lead the National Park of American Samoa

June 12, 2015

This week Scott Burch arrived to serve as the superintendent of the National Park of American Samoa​. He will lead a multi-disciplinary staff of about 50 employees that specialize in administration; education; inventory and monitoring; cultural, marine, and terrestrial resources; maintenance; and visitor services. Burch is responsible for the preservation, protection, and management of the national park’s leased lands and waters on Tutuila, Ofu, and Ta’ū islands.


“I have strong ties to Polynesia and am very excited to be in American Samoa working with the great staff here at the National Park of American Samoa,” said Superintendent Burch.

Previously, Burch served as the management assistant at Crater Lake National Park​ in Oregon and as the concessions management specialist at Denali National Park and Preserve​ in Alaska. He brings a wealth of knowledge in sustainable economic development on public lands informed by his academic and professional work experience from both the private and public sectors.

During his graduate work at the University of Hawai’i, Burch analyzed impacts of recreational use on Hawaiian offshore island wildlife sanctuaries. He also founded a non-profit organization and a commercial ocean eco-tour company that were both based on collaborative work with local communities to conduct natural resource monitoring, advance sustainable low impact eco-tourism, and implement education programs in fragile island ecosystems. These efforts earned him the Mayor of Honolulu Special Recognition Award and a nomination for the Hawai’i Living Reef Award.

“I look forward to working together with the local communities and other park partners on protecting this special place and creating the next generation of stewards and supporters for the land and culture in and around the park,” said Superintendent Burch. “I’m particularly enthusiastic about the upcoming opportunities for locals and visitors as the National Park Service enters its second century of service to the nation during our centennial year in 2016.”


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 238,280 other followers