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Forest Restoration in Kahuku with the Friends of Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park

August 26, 2013

Many national parks rely on partner organizations like Friends groups to help fulfill their missions, and Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park is no exception. The Friends of Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park connects people to the park, and regularly offers fascinating programs for its members (and non-members) that delve into the geology, biology, and culture of the park. The FHVNP volunteer programs offer people a chance to give back, and experience parts of the park they might not see otherwise, like the forest restoration project held in Kahuku last Saturday. After removing more than 1,200 invasive Monterey pine seedlings at the Nēnē Cabin at the 6,000-foot elevation on Mauna Loa, the group of 15 was rewarded with a visit to a section of  Hawaiian forest, where efforts to reestablish native plant species are a success following a fencing exclosure project that keeps feral sheep, pigs, goats and other ungulates out. While this forest is native plant-dominated, more than 100 years of animal impacts have taken a severe toll.  Some species have been completely eliminated, while others cling on to survival high above the ground out of reach of animals.  (All photos courtesy of NPS/J.Ferracane unless otherwise noted).

long and bumpy road

After meeting at 6:30 a.m. at the Kīlauea Visitor Center, and driving to Kahuku another hour, it was another two hours of bumpy dirt road to the Nēnē Cabin!

1950 ‘a‘ā flow

The contrast of blue sky, clear Mauna Loa, and the 1950 ‘a‘ā flow was extraordinary.

Beware of mouflon

Mouflon skull adorns the fence at the Nēnē Cabin.

Monterey pine seedling

A seedling from the invasive Monterey pine. Notice how green it is in comparison to the native pūkiawe next to it.

Pair of nēnē

Can you see the 2 nēnē? We counted 13 altogether, and were treated to birds flying by, too. The rewards of giving back are plentiful.

Jessica Ferracane, public affairs officer for HVNP

Your fearless blogger, Jessica.

Army of conservationists

The dedicated FHVNP volunteers, and Sierra McDaniel, who heads up the native plant restoration program at Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park (and patiently answers each and every plant question a certain blogger has!)

Line of fire

To tackle the pine project, volunteers lined up in a row, and clipped the seedlings as close to the soil as possible. That’s Jane Field pointing at you.


Another reward! Hawaiian geranium, or hinahina, aka nohoanu. Scientific name: Geranium cuneatum.


Lunch time at the Nēnē Cabin

Pocho Bean Soup

Carol Johnson’s Portuguese Bean Soup = EPIC! You’d never guess it was her first time making it!

water tank

The old redwood tank at the Nēnē Cabin

Get it, Paul!

Volunteer Paul removes one more of the 1,207 seedlings the team eradicated Saturday.

Bye bye

The Monterey pine tree spreading so many of its seeds is slated for removal in the near future.

CCC Cabin Kahuku

All pau with the pine project, the group moved to the CCC Cabin for a hike into the forest.

Not a dryopteris eye in the house

Indigenous “shuttlecock” ferns, or ‘i‘o nui (scientific name Dryopteris wallichiana) stand like sentries at the beginning of the forest.

Before exclosure

Compare the difference. This photo, taken in 2010, shows the impact hungry feral ungulates had on this section of forest before NPS put up the exclosure fence. Amazing! (Photo courtesy of Carol Johnson)


“Proud parents,” Carol and Mark Johnson, stand next to an endangered Clermontia peleana they planted which now flourishes with many others in the exclosure.

Clermontia lindseyana

Clermontia lindseyana, another of the lobelioids endemic to Hawai‘i. 

Cyanea shipmanii

Cyanea shipmanii

Beautiful peleana

Closeup of the endemic Clermontia peleana.

hāhā gets the last laugh

Carol and hāhā, or Cyanea shipmanii


Hāhā flowering and seeding. NPS Photo/Sierra McDaniel

exclosure results

Looking into the forest, where so many native plants thrive, thanks to the park’s fencing out the ungulates

tree tunnel

Mark’s favorite “tree tunnel.”

All pau

The group heads out after a long and wonderful day. Aloha!

One Comment leave one →
  1. Hawaii Big Island Travel Guru permalink
    August 28, 2013 10:24 am

    Great blog post, and photos ~ wonderful to read! Thank you for your hard work and dedication Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park Volunteers!

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