Partnerships with Hawaii Tourism Authority, County of Maui Office of Economic Development, and Kupu Hawai‘i Make “Essential” Conservation Work Possible
Kula, HI, January 15–The Pōhakuokalā Gulch Community Forest Restoration Project, a program of Nā Koa Manu Conservation and Skyline Conservation Initiative, announced today the completion of a new phase of its native habitat rehabilitation project, located at the site of the Skyline Hawai‘i zipline tour on Haleakalā Ranch in Kula. Between September and December of 2020, nearly 2,000 invasive eucalyptus trees were removed, and over 500 native trees were planted in their place, thanks to partnership support provided by Skyline Hawai‘i, Haleakalā Ranch, and Kupu Hawaii. Significant funding was provided by Hawaii Tourism Authority and the County of Maui’s Office of Economic Development, offsetting the project’s expenses.
Led by project manager and longtime Maui land steward Joseph Imhoff of Skyline Conservation Initiative, the Pōhakuokalā Gulch project aims to convert a degraded watershed–marked by an intermittent stream bed that has been overtaken by invasive Eucalyptus globulus trees–into a 100% native forest ecosystem and species habitat. This latest milestone in the project, covering several acres of land, is a major step in that direction. It couldn’t have happened in 2020 without generosity and collaboration, says Imhoff.
“It’s no easy task to take down and process such large invasive trees like Eucalyptus,” he said, “and with COVID restrictions, it’s been nearly impossible to organize our usual volunteer workdays to replant the land. Thanks to our awesome partners, not only were we able to pay for the heavy equipment and skilled arborists to remove the trees and process them, we were also able to create jobs. Through the Kupu project, I was blessed with four full-time, paid teammates who came off of unemployment to work with me on preparing the land and planting over 500 trees. This has been a wonderful win-win situation for Maui. Throughout this past year, I’ve been saying that ‘conservation is essential,’ and this is a perfect example of what that means.”
Since its inception in 2002, Pōhakuokalā Gulch restoration project has organized the planting of over 13,000 native trees on site by more than 4,000 community volunteers. Invasive Eucalyptus have been removed from a total of ten acres of land over the years, and many of the native trees planted were propagated from seeds collected at remnant old growth tree sites nearby. Visitors to the Skyline Hawai‘i zipline can now hike under a canopy of native koa, sandalwood, and ‘ōhi‘a trees.
“Skyline Hawaii has been funding the restoration of Pōhakuokalā Gulch since the Haleakalā zipline tour opened in 2002,” said Danny Boren, founder and president of Skyline Hawaii. “Now we have 501c3 partner Na Koa Manu Conservation and have been able to match tourism funds with grants and contracts from federal, state, and county funding partners which have accelerated this watershed restoration effort in a monumental way.”
Building on that recent momentum, the project will continue planting efforts in 2021 with the planting of 4,000 native trees in the newly cleared areas. As COVID-19 restrictions on public gatherings allow, Skyline Conservation Initiative will schedule volunteer work days for anyone who would like to spend time safely planting trees outdoors. Interested volunteers can sign up at http://www.skylineconservation.org/volunteer-with-us/
About Skyline Conservation Initiative/Pohakuokala Gulch Community Forest Restoration Project:
Skyline Conservation Initiative (SCI) develops programs, partnerships, and leverages resources at the intersection of conservation, agriculture, eco-tourism, and education. Since 2002, through the Pohakuokala Gulch Community Forest Restoration Project, Skyline has been restoring native ecosystems to enhance the health of the watershed in the montane mesic environment located at 4,000 ft elevation on the slopes of Mt. Haleakalā. This work includes extensive removal of invasive species like Eucalyptus globulus, installation of native trees and shrubs sourced locally from the seeds of wild plants growing on the nearby slopes of Haleakalā, and the long-term care and maintenance of native habitat for the benefit of future generations. To learn more, please visit www.skylineconservation.org
About Skyline Hawai‘i:
Skyline Hawai‘i is committed to providing safe and exciting means for seeing and experiencing the natural wonder of the Hawaiian Islands, while always aiding in the conservation and perpetuation of the islands’ unique land and culture, so they retain their body and spirit for future generations. Since 2002, Skyline Hawaii has hosted thousands of eye-opening and memory-making eco-adventures on Maui, Kaua‘i, and the Big Island. From thrilling zipline tours over 250-foot waterfalls, to sunrises at the summit of Haleakalā, to the lush Road to Hana tour, Skyline’s eco-adventures and tours will always reflect a commitment to conserving the natural wonder of the Hawaiian Islands.To learn more about Skyline’s adventures and conservation activities, visit www.skylinehawaii.com
About Na Koa Manu Conservation:
Na Koa Manu Conservation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that partners with “on the ground” conservation organizations to advance conservation and education on Maui. To learn more, visit www.nkmconservation.org