2015 marks the 30th Anniversary of Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Refuge and we have a great many reasons to celebrate!
- The Refuge has protected over 38,000 acres of native forests.
- Over 63 miles of fences have been constructed to control feral pigs and cattle.
- With the help of hundreds of volunteers over a half million native trees and endangered plant seedlings have been planted to reforest 5,000 acres of pasture lands.
- Upper elevation native forest habitat has been created for eight species of endemic forest birds.
- Hakalau Forest NWR is the only place in the State of Hawaii where native forest bird populations are stable or increasing thanks to these and other management efforts!
We are now raising money to address a very important conservation challenge.
Despite these successes, shifting federal budget priorities have resulted in a "two steps forward and one step back" scenario. In years when agency funding is particularly tight, fences cannot be adequately maintained, feral pig populations increase, and invasive plants reappear in formerly treated areas. These losses reverse hard-fought conservation gains and threaten the integrity and health of the Refuge and its native bird populations.
One thing is very clear! To be effective in the long run, forest management must be aggressive and sustained.
To ensure a source of funding independent of unpredictable Federal budgets, the Friends Of Hakalau Forest NWR has established the Hakalau Forest Refuge Management Endowment. This perpetual fund, administered by the Hawaii Community Foundation (HCF), will be used to support the Hakalau Forest NWR in their efforts to implement a diversity of ecological management projects including:
- invasive plant and animal control
- fence construction and maintenance
- propagation and out-planting of native plant species
The FOHF and the Refuge will jointly determine how these funds will be used to address refuge management priorities. Your donation will be pooled by HCF and invested with funds donated by other individuals and organizations. Each year, the HCF will pay to the FOHF approximately 4% of the fund’s average market value. The donor knows that his/her contribution is for a permanent endowment that will directly benefit the conservation of native species and their habitat at Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Refuge. Through HCF’s prudent stewardship, the intent of the donor will be honored forever. The donor may choose to be anonymous. In addition, the donor will receive an immediate tax benefit for donations made to the fund because HCF is a tax exempt public charity under section 501(c)(3) of the U.S. Internal Revenue Code.
Losses of Hawaii’s native forest habitats and native birds are unacceptable. Please help us protect the gains made over the last 30 years at Hakalau Forest NWR. Please contribute to the Hakalau Forest Refuge Management Endowment.
How to donate
Charitable contributions can be made at any time and in any dollar amount via check or online via HCF’s secure website. You may contact the Hawai'i Community Foundation at 827 Fort Street Mall, Honolulu, HI 96813. Telephone 808-537-6333 or toll free at 888-731-3863.
To donate online please go to the Hawai'i Community Foundation's page for Hakalau Forest Refuge Management Endowment. Please note that the incoming gift will be assessed a 2.6% merchant fee of the amount donated for the processing of credit card gifts. Donors will receive an immediate electronic tax acknowledgement email for their gift at the same email address they used to make their online gift.
Gifts by Check
Make your check out to the Hawai'i Community Foundation. Please note Hakalau Forest Refuge Management Endowment in the check memo area. Mail to: Hawai'i Community Foundation, 827 Fort Street Mall, Honolulu, Hawai'i 96813. Donors will receive a hard copy tax acknowledgement letter for their gift within two weeks. If you can include an email address it will help the Friends keep in touch with you.
Donors may also contribute stock and name HCF/FOHF as a beneficiary in their will or trust.
For more information about donations through the Hawai'i Community Foundation contact: Cara Mazzei, Senior Development Officer, Hawai'i Community Foundation, Honolulu. Direct Phone: 808.566.5527 Toll-free: 1.888.731.3863
The National Wildlife Refuge System is the world’s largest network of public lands and waters set aside specifically for conserving wildlife and protecting ecosystems. The System covers more than 150 million acres of public lands on 552 refuges and four national marine national monuments. The System is administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, an agency within the U.S. Department of Interior.
There are 18 national wildlife refuges in the Pacific islands of which 11 are found within the state of Hawai'i. They include Hakalau Forest, Kealia Pond, Kakahaia, O'ahu Forest, James Campbell, Pearl Harbor, Huleia, Hanalei, Kilauea Pt., Hawai'i Islands and Midway Atoll.
Prior to 1975, very little was known about the distribution and abundance of many of Hawaii’s forest birds or the extent and quality of their forest habitat. From 1976 to 1981, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) conducted intensive forest bird and habitat surveys on the main Hawaiian islands. Data from this “Hawaii Forest Bird Survey” demonstrated a high density of endangered forest birds within and around the Shipman Ranch, a large privately owned parcel surrounded by State and other private lands, on the eastern side of Hawaii island. In 1985, the FWS, with the active involvement and support of The Nature Conservancy, purchased Shipman Ranch lands and established the Hakalau Forest NWR. Later, other nearby privately owned parcels were purchased or donated to the refuge, protecting almost 33,000 acres of native forest. In 1997, a 5,300 acre forested parcel on the western slope of Mauna Loa was added to the Hakalau Forest NWR as the Kona Forest Unit. The FWS continues to survey other forested lands for possible addition to the Refuge, but funding has been difficult to secure. That said, the Service has recently submitted a land acquisition proposal to expand the Refuge which ranks very high in the FWS review process.
The forested lands on this refuge provide important habitat for critically endangered birds and plants found nowhere else. Currently, it is the only place in Hawai'i where all of the endangered forest bird populations are stable or increasing. This is the direct result of aggressive management efforts by the Refuge that include fencing , control of feral ungulates and invasive weeds, and reforestation of former pasture lands. This increase in quality habitat has led to the expansion of forest bird distribution into formerly grazed lands and an increase in density of native birds within the forested areas of the refuge.
The refuge provides essential habitat for five species of endangered Hawaiian birds. Reforestation at the upper elevations of the refuge has increased available habitat and control of feral animals has enhanced habitat quality. Because of this management effort, the refuge has the highest density of three Hawai'i Island endemic endangered bird species, the ‘Akiapola`au, Hawai`i Creeper and Hawaii ‘Akepa, each with populations in the low thousands. These birds are also found in a few other areas of Hawai'i Island but are in lower densities with declining forest habitat. The endangered Hawaiian Hawk is found at the refuge and is ubiquitous throughout Hawaii Island. The endangered Nene, Hawaii’s State bird, was reintroduced to the refuge in 1996. The refuge is one of the few areas on Hawaii Island where Nene can reproduce freely thanks to protection and small mammal predator control. Hakalau Forest is one of the only areas in the Hawaiian Islands where six species of Hawaiian honeycreepers can be found in high numbers. These species include the three endangered honeycreepers (‘Akiapola`au, Hawai'i Creeper and Hawai`i `Akepa) and the `I`iwi, ‘Apapane and ‘Amakihi. An endemic Hawaii Island thrush (Oma`o) and an endemic flycatcher (Elepaio) also thrive on the refuge.
Six small birds at Hakalau Forest, three endangered and three relatively common, are members of the Hawaii Honeycreeper family. This finch family is endemic to the Hawaiian islands. It evolved from a single colonization of a finch-like ancestor from Asia, about 5 million years ago. Amazingly, over 50 bird species have evolved from this one colonization. Sadly, only 18 survive today. The endangered ‘Akiapola’au is endemic to Hawaii island. This unusual bird with an unusual bill feeds, for the most part, on one kind of insect (a wood boring beetle larvae), on one kind of tree (Koa). This bird has one of the longest periods of parental care among all finches in the world, almost a year. It also has one of the largest home ranges of any of any finch, nearly 60 hectares. The ‘Akiapola`au can mandibulate or move both the upper and lower bills. And it feeds with its mouth wide open, pecking into the tree bark with its straight lower bill, like a woodpecker. It then reaches into a cavity with its long curved upper bill, plucking an insect to eat. The ‘Akiapola`au can also make its upper and lower bills touch like a pair of tweezers. Also endemic to Hawai`i Island, the endangered Hawai`i Akepa is one of the smallest of the Hawaiian Honeycreepers. The males of this 10 gram bird are day-glo orange, while the female is drab gray-green with a yellow-orange wash on its breast. The tips of the Akepa’s bill are crossed, allowing this tiny bird to feed in the `Ohi`a tree canopy, wrenching micro insect larvae and spiders from their hiding places in the leaf buds. The Hawaii Akepa is the only known obligate cavity nesting honeycreeper. Since Hawai`i doesn’t have any creatures that make cavities, only old growth trees, several hundred years old, can provide cavities for Akepa nests. The old growth forest that Hakalau Forest provides is essential for their continued survival. Both sexes of the endangered Hawai`i Creeper are drab green-gray. Endemic to Hawai`i Island, this honeycreeper needs old growth forest for its livelihood. Often traveling in small family groups, this bird peruses the trunks and branches of native trees searching under the bark for insects and spiders its main food source. Creepers often nest in protected tree crotches and semi cavities as well as in thick leafed tree canopy branches.Three common Hawaiian Honeycreepers found at Hakalau Forest are the scarlet-red ‘I`iwi, the maroon-red ‘Apapane and the yellow-green ‘Amakihi. All three of these birds feed on nectar as well as arthropods for the protein boost during the breeding season. Native birds are important to Hawaii’s forests as almost 60% of Hawaii’s flora is either bird-pollinated or produce seeds that are dispersed by birds. The ‘I`iwi is a particularly important pollinator of many endemic plants. With its long sickle-shaped bill, it is able to feed on nectar and pollinate many native plants which have long tubular flowers that fit the birds’ bill like a glove.
Given the remote nature of the refuge, and the rough access roads , the potential for vehicle breakdown and personal injury, and the possible disturbance of wildlife, the Fish and Wildlife Service has closed the refuge to unescorted public access. However, there are several ways in which the public may visit the refuge: (1) Since 1992 the refuge has conducted an annual Open House where the public is encouraged to visit. Refuge facilities, such as the native plant nursery and historic buildings, are open for guided tours. Visitors may also take guided birding hikes through the forest. (2) Anyone can join several different organizations that provide a volunteer experience at the refuge. During these visits the volunteers help plant native trees, work in the greenhouse or help with other refuge tasks. The Friends of Hakalau Forest NWR and the Sierra Club also arrange weekend visits for volunteers. (3) The Maulua tract of the refuge is open to the public on weekends and holidays. Visitors are required to sign up at Refuge Headquarters in advance for a visit to Maulua. (4) The refuge also allows several tour operators, under Special Use Permits, to take clients on birding/natural history tours.
Several environmental education groups visit Hakalau Forest NWR each year. Since 1995, `Imi Pono No Ka `Aina, an environmental education program for children 12-16 years, has brought students to the refuge for a week long session. Students are taught about Hawaii’s native species, their habitats and conservation ethics. While at the refuge, the students plant native trees, work in the greenhouse, collect seeds from native plants and remove invasive weeds. More recently, the “Teaching Change” program has provided local school children with an opportunity to use the refuge as an outdoor classroom. Students in successive class visits participate in a long-term study of forest phenology by documenting patters of tree growth and other habitat change over time. Two additional programs (Youth Conservation Corps, Americorps) bring high school age youth to the refuge to assist staff in wildlife management and maintenance projects.
The Fish and Wildlife Service believes that appropriate, compatible research activities contribute to, and are essential to, accomplishing the conservation and management of native wildlife populations and their habitats. The staff at Hakalau Forest NWR has enjoyed a long-standing collaboration with conservation agencies and academic institutions to learn about the habitat requirements of individual species. Several studies on the refuge have also focused on the effects of management actions on refuge wildlife.
In the 30 years since this refuge was established, more than a half million native plant seedlings, including endangered species, have been planted on more than 5,000 acres of former pasture lands by refuge staff and volunteers. More than 60 miles of fencing have been constructed to protect native forest and aid in the control of feral pigs and cattle. Invasive plant species such as gorse, blackberry and banana poka, have been controlled over thousands of acres allowing regeneration of native forest habitat. Collaboration with landowners, agencies and academic institutions has facilitated development of outstanding research and youth education programs as well.
The Friends of Hakalau Forest NWR (FOHF) was established in 2006 and is a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization. FOHF has contributed directly to the quality of habitat at Hakalau Forest NWR by providing volunteer labor to propagate and outplant native trees and rare plants and by raising funds for the construction of much needed facilities including a 10,000 gal. tank to store water for the plant nursery and a new roof for the Volunteer Cabin. FOHF has maintained and repaired refuge buildings and has constructed and maintained an educational trail complete with a trail guide describing plants and other features. FOHF has purchased equipment for volunteers and refuge staff. They also promote understanding and enjoyment of the natural and cultural resources of the refuge by sponsoring public events on the refuge and by leading special tours and arranging public lectures about the refuge and related subjects. FOHF members also work with Refuge and University of Hawai`i staff to sponsor educational field trips for local schools.
Invasive animals such as feral pigs and cattle and invasive plants are extremely difficult to control. The problem is exacerbated by the ongoing deterioration of fences and access roads. Shifting budgetary priorities have resulted in a “two-steps forward and one step back” scenario. In years when agency funding is particularly tight, fences are not adequately maintained, feral pig populations increase and invasive plants reappear in formerly treated areas causing decline in habitat quality. These losses reverse hard-fought and costly conservation gains and threaten the integrity, diversity and health of the refuge.
A group of Establishing Donors has provided the initial funding needed to create an Endowment Fund (the Hakalau Forest Refuge Management Endowment) that will be administered by the Hawaii Community Foundation (HCF). The Purpose of the Fund is “to support the Hakalau Forest NWR in their efforts to conserve the integrity, diversity and health of native species and ecosystems of the Refuge. The Fund shall be used to support a diversity of ecological management projects including, but not limited to, invasive plant and animal control, fence construction and maintenance, and propagation and out-planting of native plant species.” The Establishing Donors have identified the Friends of Hakalau Forest NWR (FOHF) as the designated non-profit that will benefit from the endowment. The HCF will receive all donations where they will be pooled and invested with funds donated by other non-profits. Each year, the HCF will pay to the FOHF approximately 4% of the fund’s average market value. The FOHF and the Refuge will jointly determine how these funds will be used to address refuge management priorities.
Established in 1916, the Hawai'i Community Foundation manages more than 650 charitable funds set up by individuals, families, non-profits and businesses across the State. These funds reflect the charitable grantmaking interests of their donors. They can vary from unrestricted grants to those for very specific areas. HCF distributes these charitable funds to Hawaii’s nonprofit organizations through a variety of grant programs.