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Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park Welcomes 4th Grade Students Through Every Kid in a Park Initiative

September 2, 2015

Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park invites all fourth grade students to visit the park for free as part of the White House’s new Every Kid in a Park program. Starting today, fourth grade students can now go to to complete an activity and obtain a free annual entry pass to more than 2,000 federal recreation areas, including national parks.

Every Kid in a Park pass

Visitor Ethan displays the Every Kid in a Park pass for 4th graders during Ranger Alakea’s Exploring the Summit hike. NPS Photo/J.Ferracane

“Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park has a long tradition of connecting keiki and classrooms to the volcanoes, Hawaiian culture, and native plants and animals in their backyard,” said Park Superintendent Cindy Orlando. “Now we can expand the invitation by offering free entry to local and national fourth graders and their families for free, and connect the next generation of park visitors, supporters and advocates to the park as we enter our 100th year,” Orlando said.

Children who visit Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park can participate in lots of fun and engaging ways, like earning a Junior Ranger badge through  the Junior Ranger programs, going on a ranger-guided program, signing up for a Kahuku ‘Ohana Day, and much more.

Keiki (kids) hike Halema‘uma‘u Trail. NPS Photo

Keiki (kids) hike Halema‘uma‘u Trail. NPS Photo

To receive their free pass for national parks, fourth graders can visit the Every Kid in a Park website and play a game to access their special Every Kid in a Park pass. Fourth graders and their families can then use this pass for free entry to national parks and other federal public lands and waters across the country from Sept. 1, 2015 through Aug. 31, 2016. The website also includes fun and engaging learning activities aligned to educational standards, trip-planning tools, safety and packing tips and other important and helpful information for educators and parents.

In addition to providing every fourth grader in America a free entry pass for national parks and federal public lands and waters, fourth grade educators, youth group leaders and their students across the country will also participate in the program through field trips and other learning experiences.

The goal of the Every Kid in a Park program is to connect fourth graders with the great outdoors and inspire them to become future environmental stewards, ready to preserve and protect national parks and other public lands for years to come. The program is an important park of the National Park Service’s centennial celebration in 2016, which encourages everyone to Find Your Park.

Every Kid in a Park in an administrative-wide effort, launched by President Obama, and supported by eight federal agencies, including the National Park Service, the Army Corps of Engineers, Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Reclamation, Department of Education, Fish and Wildlife Service, Forest Service, and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Every Kid in a Park logo

Every Kid in a Park logo


Pu‘ukoholā Heiau National Historic Site closed Monday & Tuesday as staff assess damage from wildfire

August 10, 2015

Kawaihae, HI Due to a brushfire that engulfed more than 4,650 acres in the Kawaihae area over the weekend, Pu‘ukoholā Heiau National Historic Site remains closed Monday and Tuesday, Aug. 10 and 11. The park could open as early as Wednesday, once firefighters finish extinguishing smoldering hot spots in the park, and park archeologists assess any damage to cultural sites.

Pu‘ukoholā Heiau, the massive stone temple where King Kamehameha the Great launched his successful quest to unite the Hawaiian Islands in 1810, did not sustain any damage in the fire, nor did the older Mailekini Heiau below it. The homestead site of British sailor John Young, who served as King Kamehameha’s advisor, also appears unscathed.

The brushfire, exacerbated by strong winds and dry, hot weather, came within a few feet of the visitor center and park headquarters on Saturday, but was put out by firefighters before it reached the buildings. Although both facilities are without phone service and internet, the visitor center has water and electricity.

Heiau and scorched earth

Scorched earth below the heiau. NPS Photo/J.Ferracane

“We are incredibly grateful to all the agencies and volunteers who banded together to fight this fire,” said Park Superintendent Daniel Kawaiaea. “Thankfully, there were no injuries to visitors or park staff. We also appreciate the kōkua from our sister parks, Pu‘uhonua o Hōnauanau National Historical Park, Alakahakai National Historic Trail, and Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park, who are providing resources and staff,” he said.

The fire burned about 90 percent of the vegetation on the park’s 80 acres, and melted temporary solar light fixtures along its main path. Large blackened swaths of ground, once covered in plants, is now exposed throughout the park. The vegetation was a mix of non-native grasses and shrubs, and native species like pili grass, pua kala (Hawaiian poppy) and ma‘o (Hawaii cotton).

dousing hot spots

NPS firefighters extinguish hotspots at Puukohola Heiau NHS on Monday. NPS Photo/J.Ferracane

Superintendent Kawaiaea said a decision whether the park will hold or cancel the 43rd annual Ho‘oku‘ikahi Establishment Day Hawaiian Cultural Festival, scheduled for this weekend, Aug. 15 and 16, will be made by Tuesday.

“Our biggest concern at this point is the safety for the public, our employees and the festival participants,” Kawaiaea said. “In addition to the fire damage, there is also a tropical storm expected to impact us later this week.”

Ranger and lele

Ranger George points out the lele, a wooden structure used for offerings, or ho‘okupu, at the base of the heiau, and a large pair of wooden kapu sticks that escaped the fire. Flames that charred a section of wooden gate nearby were doused before the entire gate burned. NPS Photo/J.Ferracane


August 2015 Hawaiian Cultural & After Dark in the Park Programs

July 21, 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 August. 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:

Kīlauea’s Night Skies: An Artist’s Perspective. Join Hawai‘i Island artist and interpretive guide Kent Olsen as he presents Kīlauea’s Night Skies: An Artist’s Perspective. Drawing on insights and perspectives developed through years of work in the medical imaging design field, as an interpretive guide at Mauna Kea Observatories and as a certified commercial guide at Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park, Kent will present the night skies over Kīlauea in a way that is sure to provide a new perspective and may just change the way you see everything. Utilizing the current lava lake within Halema‘uma‘u Crater as a point of reference, you will journey from the depths of the quantum realm to the edge of the cosmos. Olsen boldly attempts to describe the natural world in a way that makes the scale of the seemingly infinite something you just might be able to wrap your head around. Attendees are reminded the park is open all night for stargazing and lava glow viewing. Part of Hawai‘i Volcanoes’ ongoing After Dark in the Park series. Free.
When: Tues., Aug. 11 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 visible. NPS Photo/Janice Wei

Nā La‘au: Important Uses of Hawaiian Plants. Park Ranger Julia Espaniola shares her knowledge and love for some of the island’s native plants and their traditional uses. Part of Hawai‘i Volcanoes’ ongoing ‘Ike Hana No‘eau “Experience the Skillful Work” workshops. Free.
When: Wed., Aug. 12 from 10 a.m. to noon
Where: Kīlauea Visitor Center lānai

Ranger Noah's lei haku.(NPS photo/Christa Sadler)

Ranger Noah’s lei haku.(NPS photo/Christa Sadler)

Hālau O Mailelaulani is a Hilo-based hālau under the direction of kumu hula Mailelaulani Canario.  Kumu Mailelaulani established her hālau in the mid-1970s to perpetuate the kahiko (ancient) as well as ‘auana (modern) style of hula.  Today, her ‘auana performers participate in the annual Merrie Monarch festivities and are regular entertainers for the cruise ships through Destination Hilo. The hālau placed third in the 32nd annual Kupuna Hula Festival, Wahine Group Competition held in Kona in 2014. Part of Hawai‘i Volcanoes’ Nā Leo Manu, “Heavenly Voices” performances. Free.
When: Wed., Aug. 19 from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Where: Kīlauea Visitor Center auditorium

‘Ukulele Lessons. Learn about the history of this world-famous instrument that plays a significant role in contemporary Hawaiian music.  Join rangers from Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park as they share their knowledge and love of the Hawaiian culture.  Learn how to play a simple tune on the ‘ukulele and leave with a new skill and treasured ‘ike (wisdom) to share with your hoa (friends) and ‘ohana (family). Part of Hawai‘i Volcanoes’ ongoing ‘Ike Hana No‘eau “Experience the Skillful Work” workshops. Free.
When: Wed., Aug. 26 from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.
Where: Kīlauea Visitor Center lānai

‘Ukulele lessons

‘Ukulele lessons by Ranger Shyla NPS Photo Jay Robinson

This news release is also posted to the park website

Maui Unknown: High Altitude Streams

July 17, 2015

High-Altitude Stream Sampling at Haleakala NP… At the request of the park, the PACN recently sampled streams at high altitude in Haleakalā National Park on Maui. The team implemented the stream monitoring protocol at Palikea Stream, which is normally only sampled downstream near sea-level. The park was interested in what fish, snails, and shrimp might live in reaches far upstream.

This sampling trip was a true expedition into the wilderness, and required a lot of preparation. The team had to get trained on helicopter operations and safety. We prepared our normal stream sampling equipment, including a water quality sonde, flow meter, water sampling filter tower, and snorkeling gear.

Haleakala Entrance

A four-person, five-day trip to sample streams required two “sling-loads” of supplies. After arriving at the landing zone near the Kīpahulu Visitor center, we spread out two giant nets made of heavy rope. We arranged all our coolers, backpacks, and other supplies into the centers of the nets. Then the nets were closed around the supplies and fastened with heavy gauge steel cables.

The helicopter, bright orange with stripes, with a small bubble for a passenger and high skids, swooped in overhead and landed in the middle of the field. I was escorted to the door. I climbed in, put my harness on, and plugged my headset in. Or rather, I had help doing all these things, since it was my first heli-op. It was so noisy I couldn’t speak to anyone. Once my escort climbed in and got settled, up we went.

We soared over the rainforest climbing high into Kīpahulu Valley. There are no roads, no trails, and no real landmarks besides the streams and topography of the land itself. The flight only took about five minutes. We landed in a small patch of high grass among ‘ōhi‘a trees. My partner led me away  from under the spinning rotors to the tree line.  Once the rest of the team joined me, we made our way through the dense forest, climbing over roots and branches to our home for the next five days… Delta Camp. It’s a shack (photo on right) built in the forest with a single small room and a tank for catching rainwater.

Twenty minutes later, we heard the helicopter approaching, and it hovered directly over the camp. The rotor wash drowned out all other sounds and everything shook in the artificial wind. A sling load was lowered out of the sky onto the ground right next to the camp. The cable separated, and the ship flew away. We move all the supplies out of the way, and a second sling load arrived. As the ship left it toggled its siren to say farewell. The sound of rotors fades away.

The only realistic way to access the remote areas of the park is by helicopter.

The only realistic way to access the remote areas of the park is by helicopter.

We were there to survey Palikea Stream at an altitude of 4,000 feet. Between our location and the famous pools at ‘Ohe‘o several miles away are literally dozens of waterfalls; some several hundred feet high. But it was possible that fish were there, as some can configure their ventral fins to form a kind of suction cup, and literally scale vertical rock walls under waterfalls. We scouted the stream nearby, and decided it was suitable to sample. The next day we would scout another location downstream.

This place is cold and wet. The dense forest surrounded us with ‘ōhi‘a trees, hāpu’u, shrubs with wide succulent leaves, and stands of small climbing ferns. Bird songs abound, but it was difficult to spot them.

Our first survey revealed no fish in the stream. In fact there were no snails, no shrimp, and almost no algae growing on the rocks. It appeared as if the gravel and rocks in this area are repeatedly scoured, preventing biofilm from developing. We did find rare ferns along the bank, and a small aquatic beetle. This stretch of the stream ends in a tall waterfall. Perhaps the geomorphology of the stream is such that the water is concentrated in a small area, creating high turbulence that rolls the rocks and scours them clean.

The next day we moved downstream through the forest. It was slow going. We frequently had to crawl under brush and take detours around thick vegetation. We were headed for a spot on the map that looked to be safe access to the stream. When we arrived we looked down on the stream from the tops of cliffs. There was no safe place to access the stream, let alone sample, so we had to abandon this area. Another slog through the rainforest and  we arrived back at camp. Fog rolled in, obscuring the surrounding mountains. We discussed our options and decided to try a different stream that runs parallel to Palikea, nicknamed ‘Ōpae Stream. Judging by the name we thought there ought to be shrimp. To get there we’d have to cross Palikea. It was a concern because if the water rose, we could be trapped on the other side. Had there been heavy rain overnight, and the Palikea was high, we wouldn’t have attempted it. By morning the weather stayed clear, and Palikea was flowing normally. We crossed and found ‘Ōpae Stream.

This stream is remarkably different. It flows through a flatter, more open area with trees. Moss covers rocks. There is algae growing on most surfaces. We did find shrimp, but no fish. Is there one particular waterfall that they can’t overcome somewhere downstream?

We explored upstream until we got to another several hundred foot waterfall. One biologist, who has worked in the area many times over the past twenty years removing invasive plants, had never been to the end of this particular stream. I wonder if the ancient Hawaiians pushed this far into the forest. We might be the first people to see this particular place in 500 years, or ever.

The information we gathered will help to characterize water quality, the physical habitat, and spatial distributions of animals populations in Kīpahulu Valley in areas never before surveyed. In future trips we will survey downstream to try and determine how far upstream stream animal populations extend.

The next day we broke camp, packed up, and carried every cooler and bag through the forest to the landing zone. It was time to head back. We were thoroughly tired, and thoroughly inspired.

–D. Raikow, NPS PACN Aquatic Ecologist

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.”

EPA honors Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park as Federal Green Challenge winner

June 11, 2015

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recognized Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park with the EPA’s Federal Green Challenge Regional Overall Achievement award as part of its efforts to encourage federal departments to reduce their environmental footprints through sustainable practices.

Platinum LEED certified

The Platinum LEED certified Visitor Emergency Operations Center at Hawaii Volcanoes NP. NPS Photo/J.Ferracane

Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park, located on Hawai‘i Island is one of the most biologically diverse landscapes in the world. Located nearly 2,500 miles from the nearest continental land mass, the park stretches from the summit of Mauna Loa at 13,677 feet down to sea level. It encompasses two of the world’s most active volcanoes, and attracts more than 1.6 million visitors a year.

“We applaud National Park Service staff for leading the way towards zero waste, and educating the millions of visitors to Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park,” said Jared Blumenfeld, EPA’s Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest. “This unique landscape deserves protection, and that starts with the commitment by the federal employees who work there.”

“We are extremely honored to receive this level of recognition for our climate-friendly efforts,” said Park Superintendent Cindy Orlando. “Our staff is dedicated to implementing environmentally responsible practices, and we encourage our visitors and park partners to do the same,” she said.

Cindy Orlando

Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park Superintendent, Cindy Orlando. NPS Photo/David Boyle

The park had top regional achievements in the Federal Green Challenge Waste and Purchasing target areas, increasing recycling by 167 percent to achieve an overall recycling rate of 76 percent, while decreasing copy paper purchases by 89 percent. In addition, 95 percent of its cleaning products met Environmental Preferable Purchasing criteria.

Not only does Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park walk their talk behind the scenes, but park employees reach out to the community and visitors throughout the year through programs, exhibits and presentations on the values and importance of being climate friendly and sustainable.

Climate cube

This display at the Kīlauea Visitor Center demonstrates that just one gallon of gasoline releases enough carbon monoxide to fill this cube. NPS Photo.

The park actively works to reduce their environmental footprint in all six Federal Green Challenge target areas: energy, water, waste, electronics, purchasing and transportation.

Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park is home to Hawaii’s largest public rainwater catchment system that stores 5.3 million gallons of water. The water is treated, filtered with cartridge and sand filters, and disinfected to supply water to 56 areas throughout the park. Water bottle refilling stations, posters, and sale of refillable stainless steel water bottles educate the public to “Step Away from the Plastic.”

In addition, the park’s Visitor Emergency Operations Center, which opened in 2011, earned a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Platinum certification by the U.S. Green Building Council – and is currently the only federal building in Hawai‘i to receive LEED Platinum certification. The 4,896-square-foot building is powered by photovoltaic panels and is constructed from mostly recycled or reused materials.

Recycling cardboard

Ranger Dean recycling corrugated cardboard at Kīlauea Visitor Center. NPS photo/J.Ferracane

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park has made more great strides in conserving energy. Park rangers ride electrically powered “Eco Bikes” to their programs along the Kīlauea summit, saving fossil fuels and parking spaces. The Kīlauea Visitor Center features special yellow LED lighting to conserve energy and keep night skies dark. Solar panels generate renewable energy, and electric and alternative fuel vehicles further reduce energy and transportation-related emissions.

The Federal Green Challenge is a national effort challenging federal agencies to lead by example in reducing the Federal Government’s environmental impacts. In 2014, more than 400 participating facilities, representing nearly 1.3 million federal employees, “walked the talk” in various target areas and reduced their environmental footprint, which in many cases also resulted in significant cost savings. In EPA’s Pacific Southwest Region, $3,486,990 was saved through reductions in energy, purchasing, transportation and waste.

Click here for the e-media kit.

Eco bike

Park rangers ride electric “Eco Bikes” to reduce fossil fuel emissions, and save parking spots. NPS Photo

Reminder: Public Invited to Talk-Story Session on Hawai‘i Volcanoes NP’s Draft General Management Plan / Wilderness Study /EIS — TONIGHT

June 10, 2015

The public is invited to a talk story session about the Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park draft general management plan, wilderness study, and environmental impact statement (GMP/WS/EIS) at the Kīlauea Visitor Center, TONIGHT, June 10, 2015 from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. In addition, a formal wilderness hearing will be held during this meeting to receive comments specific to the wilderness study. Park representatives will answer questions and take comments. 

General management plans are intended to be long-term documents that establish and articulate a management philosophy and framework for decision making and problem solving in our national parks. In the 548-page document, three alternatives for Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park are presented for review. Each alternative offers a different approach to protecting and managing park resources, using facilities, and providing a range of access and visitor experiences to meet the needs of local residents, off-island visitors, and students of all ages. These alternatives were developed with the intent to include and celebrate Native Hawaiian values such as mālama ʻāina (nourishing and taking care of the land) and kuleana (responsibility).

Cover of the HVNP Draft GMP/Wilderness Study and EIS

Cover of the HVNP Draft GMP/Wilderness Study and EIS

These alternatives are the result of five years of public scoping and comment, interdisciplinary research, field assessments, stakeholder discussions, and Native Hawaiian consultation and are based upon the park’s purpose and significance, issues that need to be addressed, legal mandates, and public comments provided on the preliminary alternatives.

Mauna Loa Wilderness

Mauna Loa Wilderness. NPS Photo.

We encourage everyone to give these alternatives serious consideration, take the time to comment, and continue to stay involved to help your national park determine how this national and international treasure will be protected and managed over the next 20 years.

To review the DGMP/WS/EIS, and provide comments online, go to  Comments can also be mailed to Superintendent, Attn: DGMP/WS/EIS, PO Box 52, Hawaii National Park, HI 96718-0052. The public comment period will remain open through June 30, 2015.


Endangered nēnē at Kahuku. USGS Photo

National Parks Span the Tropical Pacific

May 29, 2015

Come take the 9,000 mile tour of the U.S. national parks in the tropical Pacific islands !

parks map

U.S. national park units throughout the tropical Pacific Ocean.

The Pacific Island Network (PACN) Inventory and Monitoring Program (I&M) is one of 32 National Park Service I&M Networks across the country facilitating collaboration, information sharing, and economies of scale in natural resources monitoring.

Spanning islands in American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana archipelago, and Hawaii, the Pacific Island Network encompasses an area as large as the continental United States.

The islands and near-shore marine areas within the National Park System protect a wealth of the planet’s aquatic and terrestrial biodiversity, unique geologic features, and cultural sites. Isolated from the continental land-masses, these federally protected areas share similarities, including threats from invasive species, limited land area, and finite resources inherent on islands.

Cultural Demonstration Series Begins

May 28, 2015
Bolly Helekahi teaching coconut weaving.

Bolly Helekahi teaching coconut weaving.

On Monday, June 1, cultural practitioner Bolly Helekahi will launch the 2015 Hana No`eau cultural demonstration series, in the Kīpahulu District of Haleakalā National Park. Helekahi will teach coconut weaving between 1pm and 3pm.

Hana No`eau refers to demonstrating and honoring Native Hawaiian traditions.

“We are proud to offer the second year of this series,” said superintendent Natalie Gates. “We appreciate the support of the Hawai`i Pacific Parks Association, our non-profit partner, in funding Hana No`eau.”

The weekly demonstrations are offered in Kīpahulu on Sundays or Mondays between 1pm and 3pm; and in the Summit on Fridays or Saturdays from 10am to 12pm. For a list of planned events please visit

Practitioners wishing to participate in this series will find an application at any Haleakalā National Park visitor center or online at

If you happen to participate in any of our cultural demonstration series programs during the summer season, feel free to share any of your photos with us on Facebook or Twitter and be sure to use the hashtag ‪#‎FindYourPark‬ when you do!

Register for Free, 3-Day Summer Junior Ranger Program at Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park

May 22, 2015
Children hiking Kilauea Iki

Keiki hike Kīlauea Iki Trail in Hawai‘i Volcanoes NP. NPS Photo/J.Ferracane

Keiki eight to 13 years old are invited to “Find Your Park” and become junior rangers through Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park’s Keiki o Hawai‘i Nei summer program. The fun-filled, three-day program begins Wednesday, June 24 and ends Friday, June 26. The program is from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. each day.

Keiki o Hawai‘i Nei is designed to encourage a child’s enthusiasm for discovery by connecting them with the park’s resources and staff, and to inspire their appreciation of what is uniquely Hawaiian by exploring the natural and cultural heritage of Hawai‘i.

Participants must bring and be able to carry their own day pack with water, snacks, lunch, and raingear, and hike up to three miles over uneven terrain at a leisurely pace. To reserve a space, call the Friends of Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park at (808) 985-7373 or email deadline to register is Friday, June 19.

Children will explore Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park, and visit the national parks on the west side of Hawai‘i Island. Transportation is provided, and there is no cost to enroll.

The summer Keiki o Hawai‘i Nei program is co-sponsored by the Hawai‘i Pacific Parks Association and the Friends of Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park.

La Réunion and Hawai‘i Connect through Sister Park Agreement

May 21, 2015

Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park and a French volcanic island in the middle of the Indian Ocean, signed a sister park agreement yesterday to fortify the mutual collaboration and cooperation between both parks.

Piton de la Fournaise erupts

An eruption consisting of several lava fountains started on Feb. 4, 2015 at Piton de la Fournaise on La Réunion Island. USGS photo.

Both Hawai‘i Volcanoes and La Réunion national parks feature active volcanoes and are celebrated throughout the world for their geological, biological, and cultural attributes. Both islands are located in the middle of vast oceans, and are situated over volcanic hot spots. La Réunion’s Piton de la Fournaise (“Peak of the Furnace”), is listed among earth’s most active volcanoes and stands 8,632 feet above sea level. Like Kīlauea, it is a shield volcano and is currently erupting.

Both parks are designated as World Heritage Sites by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), which seeks to encourage the identification, protection, and preservation of cultural and natural heritage around the world considered to be of outstanding value to humanity.

“La Réunion is a wonderful ambassador on behalf of the precious world heritage of France. Our resources join us together – shield volcanoes and endemic and endangered species. We are proud to share with the community the joining of two of the wonders of the world,” said Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park Superintendent Cindy Orlando.

Sister park agreement signing

Hawai‘i Volcanoes superintendent Cindy Orlando and La Reunion president Daniel Gonthier sign sister park agreement. NPS Photo

The sister park relationship enables both parks to enrich their personnel through projects of international cooperation, accomplished primarily through the exchange of managerial, technical and professional knowledge, information, and data technology.

Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park also has sister park agreements with Jeju Volcanic Island and Lava Tubes in South Korea and with Wudalianchi National Park in China. Like Hawai‘i Volcanoes, Jeju is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Representatives from all three sister parks participated in the BioBlitz and Biodiversity & Cultural Festival, held May 15-16 at Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park.

La Reunion exhibit booth at BioBlitz 2015

Representatives of La Reunion National Park participated in the BioBlitz and Biodiversity & Cultural Festival, May 15-16, 2015. Photo courtesy of Janice Wei.

The USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory recently initiated a new collaboration and exchange program between the USGS HVO and the Observatoire Volcanologique du Piton de la Fournaise. See the February 19, 2015 Volcano Watch article for details.

New Park Entrance Fees Approved for Haleakalā National Park

May 21, 2015

Increased entrance fees to Haleakalā National Park have been approved by the National Park Service. One significant modification to the new fee structure was based on public input.

entrance station

Beginning on June 1, 2015, Haleakalā National Park daily fees will raise incrementally in 2015, 2016, and 2017 to meet national standards for parks with similar visitor amenities. The per-person fee will change from the current rate of $5 to $12 in 2017, in two-to-three dollar increments per year. The motorcycle fee will go from $5 to $20 in 2017, in $5 annual increases. The per-vehicle pass will be raised in $5 increments from the current price of $10 to $25 in 2017. The tri-park annual pass, considered by many to be a “locals” pass, will remain at the current rate of $25 in 2015 and 2016, and then increase to $30 in 2017. Based on public input, the park proposed a $30 fee for the tri-park annual pass instead of the national standard of $50.

The tri-park annual pass permits unlimited entry into Haleakalā National Park, Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park, and Pu’uhonua o Hōnaunau National Historical Park. Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park will implement the same fee changes as Haleakalā National Park.

Kīpahulu Facilities

Kīpahulu Facilities

From mid-October through mid-December 2014 a public comment period was held. Comments were gathered at visitor centers, online, via postal mail and email, and at two public meetings (one in Hana; one in Pukalani). The park received 58 comments fully supportive of the proposed increases; 23 supportive if the fees were phased in or lowered; 56 comments opposed to any fee increase; and 16 miscellaneous comments. The park modified the proposed fee structure based on this input. The modified proposal was approved by national fee managers in Washington.

Pā Ka'oao trail rehab

Pā Ka’oao trail rehab

Since 1997, fee revenues have funded $36.6 million in Haleakalā National Park projects. Some past examples of work include: $2.75 million of improved visitor amenities in Kīpahulu (new rest rooms, potable water, new parking lot); restoring trails throughout the park ($500,000 annually); and completing archeological surveys ($499,500 in 2010). Entrance fees also supported the control of invasive species ($299,000, in 2013); stabilization of silversword populations ($60,000 annually, 2012-13); and restoration of native landscapes ($113,000 in 2013).

The current National Park Service fee program began in 1997 and allows parks to retain 80% of monies collected. The remaining 20% goes into a fund to support park units where fees are not charged. Currently Haleakalā National Park collects $3 million annually in entrance fees. When entrance fee increases are fully implemented, estimated annual revenues will be over $7 million.

Silversword planting

Silversword planting

In 2014, 1,142,040 visitors to Haleakalā National Park spent over $70 million in communities near the park. That spending supported 837 jobs in the local area and had a cumulative benefit to the local economy of over $84 million.

Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park Will Increase Entrance & Camping Fees Beginning June 1, 2015

May 20, 2015

Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park will incrementally increase entrance and camping fees over the next three years in order to fund deferred maintenance and improvement projects within the park, and to meet national standards for parks with similar visitor amenities. Entrance fees for recreational use have not increased since 1997.

volcanic glow in the park

Visitors gather along the Jaggar Museum observation deck to observe the glow from the lava lake within Halema‘uma‘u Crater. Photo courtesy of Alex Werjefelt/Mala‘e Productions

Beginning June 1, Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park will increase its per-vehicle entrance fee in $5 increments from the current price of $10 per vehicle to $15 per-vehicle this year, $20 in 2016, and $25 in 2017. The vehicle pass is valid for seven days. The per-person entrance fee (the rate bicyclists and pedestrians pay) will increase from the current rate of $5 to $8 on June 1, $10 in 2016, and to $12 in 2017. The motorcycle fee will go up from $5 to $10 on June 1, $15 in 2016, and to $20 in 2017.

One significant modification to the new fee structure was based on public input. The annual Tri-Park Pass, considered by many as the kama‘āina, or residents pass, will remain at the current rate of $25 for 2015 and 2016, and will increase to $30 in 2017. Based on public input, the park proposed a $30 fee for the Tri-Park Pass, instead of the national standard of $50. The annual Tri-Park Pass is available to all visitors and allows unlimited entry for one year to three national parks: Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park, Pu‘uhonua o Hōnaunau National Historical Park, and Haleakalā National Park.

New fees are also slated for all backcountry and front-country campsites, including Kulanaokuaiki Campground, and will be $10 per site per night. Backcountry campsites will have a stay limit of three consecutive nights, while the front-country campsites will have a stay limit of seven consecutive nights. Currently, camping is free, except at Nāmakanipaio Campground, which is managed by Hawai‘i Volcanoes Lodge Company, LLC. The new camping permit fees are similar to other public camping fees statewide.

In addition, entrance fees will increase for commercial tour companies. Currently, road-based tour vans carrying one to six passengers pay a $25 base fee and $5 per person to enter the park. The commercial per-person entrance rates will increase to $8 in 2015; $10 in 2016; and $12 in 2017 and will remain at $12 through 2021. The base fee will not change. Non-road-based tour companies, i.e. hiking tour companies that are on trails more than they are touring the park by vehicle, don’t pay a base rate but their per-person entrance fees would increase under the proposed schedule.

“The increases over the next few years will enable us to continue to provide a safe and enjoyable experience for all visitors, while upgrading some basic services like our campgrounds,” said Park Superintendent Cindy Orlando. “We reached out to our community for their feedback on the new fees, and many comments were supportive of the increase as long as the Tri-Park Pass continued to be offered,” she said.

Tri Park Pass

2015 Tri-Park Pass for Hawai‘i Volcanoes, Haleakalā, and Pu‘uhonua 0 Hōnaunau

Recreational entrance fees are not charged to persons under 16 years old, or holders of the Tri-Park, America the Beautiful National Parks and Federal Recreational Senior, Access, or Military passes. These passes may be obtained at the park, or online.

The current National Park Service (NPS) fee program began in 1997 and allows parks to retain 80 percent of monies collected. Projects funded by entrance fees at Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park include ongoing trail maintenance, cabin repairs, hike pamphlets, restrooms, picnic tables, and more. The transformation of the 1932 Administration Building (‘Ōhi‘a Wing) into a cultural museum that visitors will soon enjoy is also a fee-funded project. Entrance fees also protect the Hawaiian ecosystem by funding fencing projects that prevent non-native ungulates like pigs and goats from devouring rare native plants.

An NPS report shows that 1,693,005 visitors to Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park in 2014 spent $136,838,700 in communities near the park. That spending supported 1,672 jobs on island, and had a cumulative benefit to the local community of $170,878,000.

Kulanaokuaiki picnic table

Picnicking at Kulanaokuaiki campground. NPS Photo/Stephen Geiger

Sa’ili Lou Paka (Find Your Park)

May 19, 2015

Ia e maimoa lelei i le ata fa’asolo lea o le Sa’ili Lou Paka ua fa’aliliuina i le fa’aSamoa.

Enjoy this Samoan version of the Find Your Park video!

Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park BioBlitz Blends Best of Western Science with Traditional Hawaiian Culture

May 17, 2015

After two intensive days of exploration and documentation, the Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park BioBlitz and Biodiversity & Cultural Festival held on May 15 and 16, 2015, captured a vivid snapshot of the unique plant and animal biodiversity in park. The event brought together more than 170 leading scientists and traditional Hawaiian cultural practitioners, more than 850 students and thousands from the general public. Together they conducted a comprehensive inventory of the plants, insects, mammals, birds and other species that inhabit the 333,086-acre island park. Under the theme of I ka nānā no a ‘ike (“By observing, one learns), alakai‘i were integrated into the survey teams for a more holistic approach to the research and exploration endeavor.

Student examines ‘ōhi‘a lehua blossom

Students on an inventory. Chris Johns for National Geographic/Your Shot


  • More than 6,000 people, including more than 850 schoolchildren, participated in the BioBlitz and the concurrent Biodiversity & Cultural Festival.
  • With a scientist-to-student ratio of 1 to 5, students were able to truly work side-by-side with top scientists.
  • 22 new species (including jumping spiders) were added to the park’s species list, and sightings of 73 species at risk, including the Kamehameha butterfly and the federally endangered nēnē, were documented.
  • The BioBlitz survey more than doubled the number of fungi species on the park’s list with 17 new fungi documented at the close of the event. Many more will be added in coming days and weeks.
  • The initial scientific species count as of the afternoon BioBlitz closing ceremony on Saturday, May 16, was 416, with 1,535 observations recorded over the course of the two-day event. Organizers expect this number to increase significantly over the next several months as cutting-edge testing of the collected samples continues.
  • The 35th annual Cultural Festival was moved from July to this weekend and expanded to include biodiversity booths and activities. The festival showcased how Hawaiians are true ecological experts and I ka nānā no a ‘ike principles continue today. The Biodiversity & Cultural Festival included hands-on science and cultural exhibits, food, art and top Hawaiian music and dance performances.
closeup of Argentine ant

Argentine ants were sighted near Nāhuku (Thurston Lava Tube). Photo courtesy Alex Werjefelt

close up on jumping spider

Jumping spiders were among the 22 new species recorded for the park. Photo courtesy/Thomas Shahan via iNaturalist

The Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park BioBlitz is part scientific endeavor, part outdoor classroom excursion and part celebration of biodiversity and culture. Participants combed the park, observing and recording as many plant and animal species as possible in 24 hours. Activities included catching insects, spotting birds, observing plants and fungi, and using technology to better understand the diverse ecosystems across the park.

“The BioBlitz and Biodiversity & Cultural Festival presented an incredible opportunity to connect the community with leading scientists, international sister parks, and cultural practitioners this weekend,” said park Superintendent Cindy Orlando. “This event embodies our National Park Service centennial mission to encourage everyone to Find Your Park — literally — by exploring and understanding our vital connection to our natural world,” she said.

Children learn to pound poi

Keiki pound poi at the concurrent Biodiversity & Cultural Festival. NPS Photo/Christa Sadler

“The Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park BioBlitz was a wonderful combination of past, present and future,” said John Francis, National Geographic’s vice president for research, conservation and exploration. “It was so exciting to bring together western science and traditional Hawaiian culture and pair it with the great iNaturalist app, smartphones and pumped-up cell service courtesy of Verizon.  I hope this holistic approach serves as a model for other BioBlitzes and scientific endeavors.”

Students at Mauna Ulu

Students contribute to science at an inventory at Mauna Ulu. Photo by Andrew Hara National Geographic Your Shot

The Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Parks BioBlitz was the ninth in a series of 10 annual BioBlitzes hosted by the National Geographic Society and the National Park Service leading up to the National Park Service centennial in 2016. During closing ceremonies, the BioBlitz flag was passed to Karen Cucurullo, Acting Superintendent for the National Mall and Memorial Parks, and Dr. Michael Stebbins, Assistant Director for Biotechnology in the Science Division of the White House Office of Science & Technology Policy. The 2016 National Capital Parks BioBlitz, will feature inventory activities at national park sites in and around Washington, D.C., May 20-21, 2016. The capital celebration will the cornerstone of BioBlitzes and biodiversity events at U.S. national parks that same weekend.

Passing the BioBlitz flag from Hawai‘i Volcanoes to Washington, D.C.

Karen Cucurullo, Acting Superintendent for the National Mall and Memorial Parks, accepts the BioBlitz flag at the podium.

Citizen scientists and students in the field

Citizen scientists and students in the field. National Geographic Your Shot photo/Chris A. Johns

The first BioBlitz was held at Rock Creek Park in Washington, D.C., in 2007. The second took place at Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area in California in 2008. Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore was the site of the third BioBlitz in 2009; Biscayne National Park outside Miami was the 2010 site; Saguaro National Park in Tucson hosted the 2011 BioBlitz; Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado was the 2012 host park; in 2013 BioBlitz took place at Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve outside New Orleans; and Golden Gate National Parks in Northern California hosted BioBlitz 2014.

Youth ambassadors pose on stage

Emcee Mileka Lincoln poses with the Youth Ambassadors. Park Ranger Julia Espaniola, far left, was named the BioBlitz Youth Ambassador representing Hawai‘i Volcanoes. NPS Photo.

Exploring Kīlauea caldera

Representatives from sister parks, Jeju Volcanic Island and lava Tubes (South Korea) and Wudalianchi National Park in China, join Ranger Dean “Into the Volcano.” NPS Photo/Janice Wei

Hula dancer in kapa pā‘ū

Dancer Amy Kaawaloa of Hālau Hulu Ulumamo o Hilo Palikū, the opening program for the Biodiversity & Cultural Festival. NPS Photo/J.Ferracane

Verizon is the lead sponsor of the 2015 Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park BioBlitz. Generous individual, organization and foundation support has been provided by Mr. and Mrs. Thomas D. Rutherfoord Jr., Friends of Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park and Hawai‘i Pacific Parks Association, Harold M. and Adeline S. Morrison Family Foundation, Harold K.L. Castle Foundation, Edmund C. Olson Trust II, and the Office of Hawaiian Affairs. Additional generous corporate supporters include Kona Brewing Company, KapohoKine Adventures, First Hawaiian Bank, Roberts Hawai‘i, Alaska Airlines and Big Island Candies. In-kind donations have been received from Hawai‘i Volcanoes Lodge Company LLC, KTA Super Stores, Hawai‘i Forest & Trail, Impact Photographics and Aloha Crater Lodge.

Kenneth Makuakane

Musician, singer and songwriter Kenneth Makuakāne performed both days. NPS Photo/J.Ferracane

Kumu Hula Ab Valenica

Kumu Hula Ab Valencia led several inventories about the plants used in hula. NPS Photo/Jon Christensen

Looking for birds with binoculars

Students spot birds with binoculars at Devastation Trail. Photo/Andrew Hara, National Geographic Your Shot

Scientist with iPad

Technology meets nature! Dr. Darcy Hu, Coordinator & Science Advisor for the Hawai’i-Pacific Islands Islands Cooperative Ecosystem Studies Unit, (CESU), at Kīlauea Overlook. Photo courtesy of Marvin A. Watts.

Biodiversity mural

Student graduates of “Biodiversity University” signed a giant mural, pledging to protect the environment. NPS Photo/Jay Robinson


About the National Geographic Society

National Geographic is a global nonprofit membership organization driven by a passionate belief in the power of science, exploration and storytelling to change the world. Each year, we fund hundreds of research, conservation and education programs around the globe. Every month, we reach more than 700 million people through our media platforms, products and events. Our work to inspire, illuminate and teach through scientific expeditions, award-winning journalism and education initiatives is supported through donations, purchases and memberships. For more information, visit and find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+, YouTube, LinkedIn and Pinterest.

About the National Park Service

More than 20,000 National Park Service employees care for America’s 407 national parks and work with communities across the nation to help preserve local history and create close-to-home recreational opportunities. Visit us at, on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

800 students get ready for BioBlitz 2015

May 12, 2015

May 15th, 2015… Over 800 students will descend upon the forests, grasslands, and lava fields of Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park for a one-time, park-wide science and cultural event. Thousands of other people are expected to follow in their footsteps through May 16th.

Are you ready to join us?

For more information:

It’s Turtle Tuesday! Tonight’s After Dark in the Park and a new educational app feature Hawksbill Sea Turtles

May 12, 2015

Tonight’s After Dark in the Park at Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park is all about one of the most beloved yet endangered creatures contributing to the biodiversity found here: the honu‘ea, or hawksbill sea turtle.

Hawksbill sea turtle hatchling heads towards the sea

A hawksbill hatchling heads towards the ocean after emerging from its nest in Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park. NPS Photo.

Join Lauren Kurpita, coordinator for the Hawai‘i Island Hawksbill Turtle Recovery Project, who will present “Honu‘ea: Endangered Hawksbill Sea Turtles of Hawai‘i Island.” Lauren will address the difference between hawksbill and green sea turtle species, threats to hawksbills, and conservation efforts to help protect this amazing species from extinction. Part of Hawai‘i Volcanoes’ ongoing After Dark in the Park series, from 7 to 8 p.m. Free, but park entrance fees apply.

game cover

Cover of new educational hawksbill game app. Courtesy photo.

In addition, One Planet Education Network (OPEN) announces the launch of Turtle Trails – Save Me! I am the Hawksbill Turtle conservation education game application for Apple iOS and Google Android mobile devices, designed for for children, ages 7-13.

The app is currently available at Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park’s Kīlauea Visitor Center and Jaggar Museum, and bookstores at those locations.  It is also being distributed at the Mokupāpapa Marine Discovery Center in Hilo.

This $4.99 educational app can be purchased and downloaded onsite at the above locations via open Wi-Fi links as well as traditional cellular services that connect to dedicated site-specific Turtle Trails websites.  These site-specific websites are noted on sales posters and media cards installed at the public facilities noted above.  It can also be purchased online through OPEN and its partner websites.

A portion of the gross revenue proceeds from both game apps and curriculum sales will go to support programs at Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park, the National Marine Sanctuaries, and Hawksbill sea turtle recovery programs.

In Turtle Trails, a player helps critically endangered hawksbill sea turtles to successfully navigate the land-based stages of their reproductive cycle at Halapē, a beach within Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park, while avoiding numerous human-caused and natural hazards.

sales poster for turtle app

Poster for Save Me! Turtle Trails –I am the Hawksbill Sea Turtle

Turtle Trails has an accompanying in depth standards-based curriculum for US grades 3-8th grade levels, sold separately with accompanying game to schools in the US and worldwide.  Now entering classrooms worldwide, game-based learning is an exciting new frontier for education.

Turtle Trails was developed with the cooperation and support of Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park’s scientific interpretation and educational experts; Hawai‘i Pacific Parks Association; NOAA National Marine Sanctuaries; and the Hawai‘i Wildlife Fund. 

Educational Research & Development for OPEN’s learning games and in classroom testing was supported and approved by the US Department of Education, the National Science Foundation (NSF), and NASA. OPEN’s real-world based STEM designed games have shown learning gains over traditional methods of learning and teaching.

Partial backcountry closure at Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park

May 11, 2015

Due to increased seismic activity reported by the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park will not be issuing backcountry permits for any areas below Crater Rim Drive, and Kulanaokuaiki Campground is closed.

The increase in seismicity and the drop in the summit lava lake — now about 10 meters, or 33 feet, below the vent rim — is similar to what we experienced with the Kamoamoa fissure eruption in 2011.  When this happened, we were not able to tell where lava would pop up and it could impact safe visitation anywhere along the East Rift Zone.

lava lake at Kīlauea summit

The summit lava lake in Halema‘uma‘u Crater dropped to 10 meters (33 feet) below the vent rim over the weekend. USGS Photo

Although there is no immediate indication that this scenario is happening, the park is making these closures just in case, and will reevaluate based on any new data from USGS.

BioBlitz 2015: Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park

May 6, 2015

Can we count on you to help us count species at the upcoming BioBlitz? Students from Keaʻau High School’s Digital Media Program share this public service announcement about the upcoming BioBlitz and Biodiversity & Cultural Festival May 15-16, 2015 at Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park.

Learn more at:

Finding invasive plants before they take over

May 6, 2015

Pilot studies help refine monitoring methods in the costly struggle against invasive plant species

Threat at summit

As part of the pilot study, I&M botanists surveyed approximately 19 miles of highly trafficked trails around the Kilauea summit. These included paths and parking lots stretching from Jagger museum to Kilauea Iki. In terms of non-native species, the residential area by Volcano House proved to be the most interesting. Surveyors documented several planted ornamentals, including this Syzygium species. After reporting this plant to HAVO, we learned that park management is planning to eradicate this individual since it belongs to the highly invasive family, Myrtaceae.  -M. Simon, NPS Biotech (I&M)

Aggressive, non-native plants – or invasive species as you may commonly hear them called, are one of the biggest threats to the spectacular endemic plant communities in Pacific island national parks. While Hawaiʻi Volcanoes (HAVO), Haleakalā (HALE), and many other parks have long recognized the threat invasive plants pose and declared war on them, these battles are costly, time consuming, and sometimes plant invasions pass the point of no return.

The Pacific Island Network Inventory and Monitoring Program (I&M) has been active in HAVO, HALE, and other Pacific island parks documenting the presence of non-native and native plant species on vegetation maps and within focal plant communities through long-term plot monitoring. While these data provide park managers valuable information on non-native plant species over time, they do not include targeted surveys of critical invasion corridors (e.g., roads, trails, fence lines) where new non-native plants are most likely to establish. Because detecting and eliminating potential invasive species before they become widely established is the most cost effective, and sometimes the only opportunity to eradicate these invaders, the I&M Program is developing an early detection monitoring protocol. Early detection allows resource managers to aggressively target newly established plants and stop the invasion before it starts.

This past summer and fall, I&M initiated three early detection pilot studies at HAVO and HALE. The objectives of these studies were: (1) to provide the parks immediate data on new species encountered; (2) test the proposed monitoring methods for systematically searching for, finding, and reporting new non-native plant species; and (3) develop time and cost estimates on small scales before implementing these methods network wide. HAVO requested a study in the summit area of the park as this is where the greatest visitor impacts are felt. Simultaneously, I&M initiated a pilot study at HALE along trails to compliment ongoing park funded road surveys. Finally, the largest pilot study was conducted at HAVO within the Kahuku Unit.

Kahuku was acquired by HAVO in 2003, and while initial biological inventories were conducted, Kahuku is less well studied than older sections of the park. The agricultural history and range of diverse climates and habitats makes Kahuku a prime target for the introduction and colonization of invasive plants. Kahuku contains almost 130 miles of roads and trails… far too much for a two person crew to survey in the time allotted for the pilot study. As a result, the busiest roads and trails were given the highest priority. The crew walked these roads and trails, and anytime an unknown plant was encountered, a GPS point and photos were taken. A sample was also collected when necessary. Once these unknown species were identified, they were compared to lists of species currently known to exist in the Kahuku Unit, the rest of HAVO, and Hawaiʻi Island in general. This way the crew could ascertain whether the species in question was just unfamiliar to the surveyors, or was actually a newly established non-native plant species.

Surveying for about one month, crews covered over 76 miles of roads and trails in Kahuku. Depending on what was found and road/trail conditions, crews were able to survey up to 6 miles/day, and cover nearly all the high traffic areas. So what did they find…a lot!

Invasive found at HALE

Over 12 days between the months of September and November 2014, I&M biologists Elizabeth Urbanski and Michelle Osgood conducted a pilot study of the Early Detection protocol at Haleakala National Park. Approximately 40 miles of trails were surveyed throughout the summit district of the Park. The survey resulted in the observation of 3 plant species in 4 locations that were determined to fit early detection criteria at HALE. Strawberry guava, one of the park’s most prolific invaders was found in a new location along the Kaupo trail. A plant never previously recorded in the park called Wahlenbergia gracilis, was found off trail in the front country. -E. Urbanski, NPS Biotech (I&M)… Photo by Forest and Kim Starr

In total, survey crews found 30 unreported species in areas of Kahuku: 11 species new to Kahuku, 3 species new to HAVO, and 1 species new to the Big Island! The species new to the Big Island is the grass, Dicanthium annulatum, and will be added to the HAVO species database along with the three other species new to the park. In general, most of the encountered species were grasses and herbs that often produce large amounts of small seeds which are easily spread. In addition, the highest densities of new species found generally corresponded to the roads and trails with the highest rates of use, which is not surprising.

So what’s next? HAVO staff are taking a good look at the list of new species found during the pilot study surveys, and will attempt to identify if any of these species pose a risk of becoming invasive. Any species identified as high risk will be targeted for eradication. Meanwhile, I&M is evaluating the effectiveness of this study to enhance the Early Detection of Invasive Plants protocol and the feasibility of instituting early detection at a larger scale throughout HAVO and other the Pacific island national parks.

-M. Wasser, NPS Botanist (HAVO)

-A. Ainsworth, NPS Botanist (I&M)


ALIEN PILOT … Get it? 

Artist-in-Residence Holds Open Studio for Visitors to Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park

May 4, 2015

Hawaii National Park, Hawaii – Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park’s current artist-in-residence, feather artist Rick Makanaaloha Kia‘imeaokekanaka San Nicolas, is holding an open house Monday through Friday, now through May 16 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., at the 1932 Administration Building (also called the ‘Ōhi‘a Wing). 

San Nicolas will also participate in the park’s upcoming BioBlitz and Biodiversity & Cultural Festival, Friday and Saturday, May 15 and 16, from the ‘Ōhi‘a Wing, located between Kīlauea Visitor Center and Volcano House.

Artist and master of ancient Hawaiian featherwork, Rick Makanaaloha Kia‘imeaokekanaka San Nicolas, displays his mahiole hoaka, or spoked helmet, and ‘ahu‘ula, or feathered cloak. NPS Photo/Christa Sadler

Artist and master of ancient Hawaiian featherwork, Rick Makanaaloha Kia‘imeaokekanaka San Nicolas, displays his mahiole hoaka, or spoked helmet, and ‘ahu‘ula, or feathered cloak. NPS Photo/Christa Sadler

Rick Makanaaloha Kia‘imeaokekanaka San Nicolas was recently bestowed the title of Ke Kumu Hulu Nui (feather master of ancient Hawaiian featherwork) by revered Kumu Hula (hula master) Kaha‘i Topolinski. Early on, San Nicolas knew his calling was to learn from the most noted Hawaiian experts of this heritage art. His featherwork replicates the work of ancient Hawaiian masters whose finely crafted regalia were worn by Hawaiian royalty and warriors. He has honed his featherwork through research, talking to kupuna (honored elders), and by listening intently to all who want to share their story, traditions, and process. Through their dedication, San Nicolas helps perpetuate the art of feather lei making for generations to come. More of his work is also on exhibit at Volcano House.

Feathered hat bands. Photo courtesy of Rick Makanaaloha Kia‘imeaokekanaka San Nicolas

Feathered hat bands. Photo courtesy of Rick Makanaaloha Kia‘imeaokekanaka San Nicolas

The National Parks Arts Foundation, now in its second year of working with the National Park Service at Hawai‘i Volcanoes, coordinates the park’s artist-in-residence program. The National Parks Arts Foundation is a non-profit 501(c)3 supported by donations from the public. To help fund upcoming artist-in-residence programs in a number of parks, call (505) 715-6492, email, and visit

Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park’s Draft General Management Plan / Wilderness Study / Environmental Impact Statement Available for Review and Comment

May 1, 2015
Cover photo of the GMP

Cover for the Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park Draft General Management Plan / Wilderness Study / Environmental Impact Statement

Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park is pleased to announce the availability of its draft general management plan, wilderness study, and environmental impact statement (GMP/WS/EIS).

General management plans are intended to be long-term documents that establish and articulate a management philosophy and framework for decision making and problem solving in our national parks. In the 548-page document, three alternatives for Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park are presented for review. Each alternative offers a different approach to protecting and managing park resources, using facilities, and providing a range of access and visitor experiences to meet the needs of local residents, off-island visitors, and students of all ages. These alternatives were developed with the intent to include and celebrate Native Hawaiian values such as mālama ʻāina (nourishing and taking care of the land) and kuleana (responsibility).

These alternatives are the result of five years of public scoping and comment, interdisciplinary research, field assessments, stakeholder discussions, and Native Hawaiian consultation and are based upon the park’s purpose and significance, issues that need to be addressed, legal mandates, and public comments provided on the preliminary alternatives.

A small flock of nēnē on lava rock in Kahuku

Endangered nēnē in Kahuku. USGS photo.

We encourage everyone to give these alternatives serious consideration, take the time to comment, and continue to stay involved to help your national park determine how this national and international treasure will be protected and managed over the next 20 years.

To review the DGMP/WS/EIS, and provide comments online, go to The park will host a talk story session at the Kīlauea Visitor Center on June 10, 2015 from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. to answer questions and take comments. In addition, a formal wilderness hearing will be held during this meeting to receive comments specific to the wilderness study. Comments can also be mailed to Superintendent, Attn: DGMP/WS/EIS, PO Box 52, Hawaii National Park, HI 96718-0052. The public comment period will remain open through June 30, 2015.

Mauna Loa wilderness

The Mauna Loa wilderness in the park’s Kahuku section. NPS Photo.

The other “normal” flow conditions

April 30, 2015
Low water

Drought conditions near the mouth of a stream at Haleakalā National Park.

Headlines often mention climate change causing coral bleaching  and sea level rise, but what happens to Hawaii streamlife?

normal flow

“Normal” flow conditions near the mouth of a stream at Haleakalā National Park.

Changes in weather patterns affect the quantity and quality of the water, which has profound effects on our native stream animals. In the Hawaiian Islands, the total amount of rain is expected to decrease as the impacts of climate change manifest. However, the frequency and severity of storms are expected to increase. Rigorous studies have prompted us to anticipate that there will be more rain in the summer months (the “dry” season) and less rain during the winter months (the “rainy” season). This will cause significant variation in stream discharge, the amount of water flowing from the stream. This predicament also threatens the native stream fish, shrimp, and snails that rely on a connection to the ocean in order to complete their life cycles.

All of Hawaii’s native stream animals are amphidromous, which means larvae hatch in the stream then wash out to the ocean where they develop for up to a few months. The juveniles then return to the stream and mature into adults. Decreases in rainfall lead to more frequent drought conditions, which could interrupt this crucial stream-ocean connection. This occurrence limits both the larvae from washing out to the ocean as well as limiting juveniles from recruiting back up into streams. In addition, many stream animals become relegated to pools in times of low flow.

A decrease in overall rainfall may increase drought events that can lead to changes in water quality. Oxygen is an important water quality parameter that is critical for all life. Stream animals obtain all their oxygen from what is dissolved in the water. With less water flow, the temperature of the water can increase. Warmer water absorbs less oxygen than colder water because gases dissolve better in colder water. Additionally, with reduced flow there is reduced oxygenation of the water from tumbling over waterfalls or around rocks. Lack of flow and warmer temperatures promote plant and algal growth, which consumes even more oxygen. The algae eventually die and decompose, further depleting oxygen stores.

Though some animals may be able to tolerate severe low oxygen levels, even moderately low oxygen levels can affect their reproduction because egg production requires significant oxygen. Many organisms, especially fish, are very oxygen –dependent and could die if not enough oxygen is available to them.


Native ‘o’opu nōpili

In an effort to track the health of stream animals in the throes of a changing climate, the Inventory & Monitoring Program monitors stream animal populations as well as water quality parameters (including dissolved oxygen) in streams at Haleakalā NP, Kalaupapa NHP, War in the Pacific NHP, and the NP of American Samoa. Let’s hope these fragile animals aren’t forced to hit too many warm, oxygen-depleated pools as the climate changes.                    –A. Farahi, NPS Biological Science Technician (I&M)