Mauna Kea Watershed Alliance Huakai

Koa forests on Mauna Kea make for a mist-erious drive.

Part of what makes a partnership strong is sharing knowledge, especially in person and among place. HWMO had the great opportunity to meet with its partners from Mauna Kea Watershed Alliance (MKWA) for a huakai of one of their preservation areas on the eastern flanks of Mauna Kea. After a bumpy, Indiana Jones-esque ride to the site, Pablo Beimler, representing HWMO toured the site with Jermy Uowolo and Joe Kern of MKWA to discuss the fuels management issues in and around the area and to brainstorm ideas for reducing fuel and creating better suppression access. More importantly, Pablo was able to take in-depth notes with photos that he added to a report that he will share with members of HWMO's Technical Advisory Committee (TAC). The TAC members hold a diverse wealth of knowledge about the area's fire issues and fuels management techniques that would work in the area. 

A pueo keeps a watchful eye on us as we enter the preserve.

The site acts as a bird corridor for some of Hawaii's most precious birds, such as palila and pueo (HWMO's mascot). A few years ago, a wildfire burned through parts of the preserve, including koa and mamane tree plots, so wildfire is a high priority for the MKWA team. MKWA crew are continuing to work to preserve the precious native forests that still exist there and are reinvigorating existing forests and creating new ones by out-planting more trees like koa, mamane, and iliahi. Pablo had the exciting opportunity, at the end of the tour, of putting in some volunteer hours by helping fertilize new koa starts that will act as a barrier from the invasion of gorse. The vigorous shrub has taken over large tracts of land on the mauna and are continuing their march to new areas.Their seeds can stay viable in the ground for 50+ years and when a fire comes around, they re-sprout with ease (their seed pods open after fires and their burnt stumps can generate new sprouts). This is certainly one of the hazards we will discuss with our team of experts.

Endless field of gorse (darker green vegetation).

An area that was burned in the latest wildfire can be seen in the furthest puu where a group of mamane trees were scorched.

Big mahalo to the MKWA crew, including Jermy, Joe, and Cheyenne Perry (who wasn't able to attend but is also an integral member of the HWMO team). We are very fortunate to have such great partners all across the board - it's the only way we can truly take on a challenge as vast and complicated as wildfire. 

A beautiful new koa that we fertilized at the end of the tour.