|Life Story||The People||Size and Visitation|
Haleakala, originally part of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, was re-designated as a separate entity in 01 July 1961. Haleakala National Park was designated an International Biosphere Reserve in 1980. Of its 28,655 acres, 19,270 are wilderness.
Haleakala National Park was established on the island of Maui to preserve the outstanding features of Haleakala Crater. Later additions to the park gave protection to the unique and fragile ecosystems and rare biotic species of Kipahulu Valley, the scenic pools along �Obe�o Gulch, and the coast.
And so, stretching from the summit of Mt. Haleakala eastward to the southeast coast, the park joins these two special areas - Haleakala Crater near the summit and the Kipabulu coastal area. No roads connect the two, though each can be reached by road from Kabului. In fact to help keep the park as undisturbed as possible, so that the visitor may find here a natural environment, roads lead only to this threshold of this inspiring wilderness.
Cross this threshold and step into the contrasting beauty of Haleakala National Park. Learn here of the earth and of those mysteries beneath and above its surface - of cool and silent volcanic rocks, of cascading streams and quiet pools, and of dazzling silver plants and flashing scarlet birds.
Acreage - as of September 23, 2000
Visitation - 1999
Total Recreation Visits - 1,963,187
Haleakala Crater is now a cool, cone-studded reminder of a once-active volcano. Streaks of red, yellow, gray and black trace the courses of recent and ancient lave, ash, and cinder flows. The volcanic rocks slowly break down as natural forces reduce them to minute particles which are swept away by wind, heavy rain, and intermittent streams.
Modern geology indicates that the Hawaiian Islands are situated near the middle of the "Pacific Plate," one of a dozen thin, rigid structures covering our planet like the cracked shell of an egg. Though adjoining each other, these plates are in constant motion, the Pacific Plate moving northward several centimeters per year. Scattered around the world are many weak areas in the earth's crust where magma slowly wells upward to the surface as a "plume." Here volcanoes and volcanic islands, such as Maui, are born.
This constant northwestward movement of the Pacific Plate over a local volcanic "hot spot," or plume, has produced a series of islands, one after another in assembly line fashion. The result is a chain of volcanic islands stretching from the island of Hawaii along a southeast-northwest line for 2,500 miles (4,050 kilometers) toward Japan.
Maui, one of the younger islands in this chain, began as two separate volcanoes on the ocean floor; time and again, eon after eon, they erupted, and thin new sheets of lava spread upon the old, building and building, until the volcano heads emerge from the sea. Lave, wind-blown ash, and alluvium eventually joined the two by an isthmus or valley, forming Maui, "The Valley Isle." Finally, Haleakala, the larger eastern volcano, reached its greatest height, 12,000 feet (3,600 meters) above the ocean- some 30,000 feet (9,100 meters) from its base on the ocean floor.
For a time, volcanic activity ceased, and erosion dominated. The great mountain was high enough to trap the moisture-laden northeast tradewinds. Rain fell and streams began to cut channels down its slopes. Two such streams eroding their way headward created large amphitheater-like depressions near the summit.
Ultimately these two valleys met, creating a long erosional "crater." At the same time a series of ice age submergences and emergences of the shoreline occurred; the final submergence formed the four islands of Lanai, Molokai, Kahoolawe, and Maui.
When volcanic activity resumed near the summit, lava poured down the stream valleys, nearly filling them. More recently, cinders, ash, volcanic bombs, and spatter were blown from numerous young vents in the "crater" forming multicolored symmetrical cones as high as 600 feet (180 meters). Thus this ware-carved basin became partially filled with lava and cinder cones, and it came to resemble a true volcanic crater.
Several hundred years have passed since the last volcanic activity occurred within the crater. This stillness in Maui is attributed by modern geology to the constant northwestward movement of the Pacific Plate. As the oldest islands on the northwest end of the chain have moved farther away from the plume-source of new lava-they have ceased to grow; the ravages of wind and rain and time have thus been able to reduce them to sandbars and atolls.
Maui has shifted a few kilometers from the plume's influence, and Haleakala, too, is destined to become extinct. Though dormant now, about 1790, which is quite recent in geologic time, two minor flows at lower elevations along the southwest rift zone of Haleakala reached the sea and altered the southwest coastline of Maui. Today earthquake records indicate that internal adjustments are still taking place in the earth's crust, but at present, no volcanic activity of any form is visible in the crater nor at any other place on the island of Maui. Perhaps Haleakala could erupt again; we just don't know.
Though Maui is no longer growing, the youngest island in the chain, Hawaii, is enlarging. And as the plate drift continues, it is even probable that in the distant future, a new volcanic island will appear to the southeast of Hawaii, the Big Island. Diversity on Haleakala
Found at the highest elevations, the alpine/aeolian zone appears barren. Rainfall sinks rapidly into the porous, rocky ground, whose bare surface becomes "summer every day, winter every night." Few plants species can establish seedlings in this harsh environment, and plant cover is sparse; only a few hardy shrubs, grasses, and the ahinahina (silverword) survive. Unique communities of insects and spiders thrive by feeding on wind-imported insects, other organic matter, and moisture from lower elevations.
The subalpine shrubland covers extensive areas below the alpine/aeolian zone and above the forest line. More than a dozen species of shrubs and grasses inhabit this zone, many found nowhere on earth. Shrubs are sparse in the shallow soils at higher elevations, but form dense thickets where soils are deeper. The shrubs provide food for many bird species, including the nene (Hawaiian goose).
Rain forest occupies the windward slopes of Haleakala. Annual rainfall ranges from 120 inches to 400 inches or more. The forest canopy is dominated by �ohi'a trees in the upper elevations, grading into a mixed �ohi'a and koa canopy at lower levels. Diverse vegetation - smaller trees, ferns, shrubs, and herbs - grow in the understory. One of the most intact rain forest ecosystems in Hawaii, the Kipahulu Valley is home to numerous rare birds, insects and spiders.
The dry forest zone is found on the leeward slopes of Haleakala, in areas with 20 to 60 inches of annual rainfall. Dry forests may once have been more extensive than the rainforests, but browsing animals, grass invasions, and fire have drastically reduced them. Small patches of dry forest are preserved in Kaupo Gap.
Cutting across several life zones, stream ecosystems hosting fish, shrimp, and limpets meet the lowland/coastal zone. These low level ecosystems have been more heavily modified by humans than any other life zone. Native shrubs and herbaceous plants remain only in pockets along the coast.
The Hawaiian Islands, thousands of kilometers from a continental land mass, support a complex system of plants and animals. More than 90 percent of the native species are found only on these islands. What events took place to create this assemblage of life so severely restricted in range?
A tiny seed caught among a bird's feather, fern spores borne aloft by strong winds, and insects cast ashore with floating vegetation are means by which life can cross an ocean. For everyone that successfully survived the trip, thousands perhaps millions, failed. But time was not a critical factor, and thus over millions of years several hundred of the hardier life forms established populations on the new islands.
Time and extreme isolation were essential for the development of Hawaii's unique native life. Isolated from the remainder of its kind and living in a strange environment, a small breeding population is especially subject to evolutionary development. In some instances, changes have been so pronounced that it is difficult, if not impossible, to trace ancestries to continental forms.
On the other hand, all mammals-except for a small brown bat and monk seal-arrived on these islands through man's intentional or accidental aid. Being unnatural, their presence has greatly upset the natural balance here. Wild pigs, initially brought by the early Hawaiians, root today through the wet areas of the park. Goats, introduced by Europeans, browse throughout the crater. Those two exotic are the most serious threat to native plant and animal populations. But other species inhabit the park such as the predatory mongoose, released in sugar cane fields to control mice and rats (also introduced). All of these exotics continue to threaten the natural relationship which would have evolved between organisms and their environment in the absence of interference by modern man. Thus the Park Service has embarked upon an exotic plant and animal control program aimed at perpetuating the values for which Haleakala National Park was established.
Hawaii is noted for its unique birdlife, and many species are found nowhere else. The golden plover commonly seen from September to May is famous for its migratory flights to and from Alaska. You may also see the �apapane, i'iwi, amakihi, and nene which are among those birds native only to the Hawaiian Islands. The i'iwi is one of the most beautiful of all Hawaiian birds, with a bright scarlet body, black wings and tail, and inch-long curved bill. The �apapane is also scarlet, but has a white belly and black legs and bill. The bright green and yellow �amakihi is known for the speed at which it searches for nectar and insects. However, most of the birds you will see along the park roads - pheasants, chukars, skylarks, mockingbirds - are introduced forms. These, too, have taken their toll of native birdlife - as carriers of bird diseases and competitors for territory and food.
In contrast to the red and yellow, gray and black lava ash and cinder cones of Haleakala Crater are the lush greenness and abundant waters of the Kipahulu section of the park. Here the visitor is greeted by a chain of pools of ever changing character, some large, some small, and each connected by a waterfall or short cascade. But �Ohe�o, the stream joining the pool, has many moods, and at times becomes a thundering torrent of white water burying these quiet pools as it churns and plunges headlong toward the ocean. The upper rain forest above the pools receives up to 250 inches (635 centimeters) of rainfall a year and flash floods can and do occur here.
A pastoral scene of rolling grasslands and forested valleys surrounds the pools. Ginger and ti form an understory in forests of kukui, mango, guava, and bamboo, while beach naupaka, false kamani, and pandanus abound along the rugged coastal cliffs. Pictographs, painted by long- forgotten artists, and farm plots once flourishing with cultivated taro and sweet potatoes, remind us of an age when the ali'i - Hawaiian chiefs - ruled this island.
In the higher elevations, a vast native loa and �ohi'a rain forest thrives, just as it has for thousands of years, still relatively undisturbed by the influences of man. It is here that the endangered Maui nukupu'u, Maui parrotbill. And other native birds still survive in a delicately balanced environment. Protection of this ecosystem will help preserve some of this rare birdlife.
Approximately 1,500 years ago, Polynesian colonists sailed large double-hulled canoes on migrational voyages from the South Pacific. They navigated over 2,500 miles of open ocean using nature's signs, such as stars, birds, winds, tides, and currents. To sustain themselves the Polynesians brought to the Hawaiian Islands food and medicinal plants, introducing kalo, �uala (sweet potato), uhi (yams), �ulu (breadfruit), and ko (sugar cane), as well as dogs, pigs, and chickens. Koa trees, found only in the Hawaiian Islands, provided logs for hulled canoes. Single outrigger canoes were mainly used by lawai'a (fishermen) to catch deepwater fish such as aku (bonito).
The coastal Kipahulu area once supported a large population of Hawaiians. Current estimates place several hundred thousand people in the Hawaiian Islands at the time of Captain Cook's arrival.
These people were skilled at fishing, farming, collecting, and craftwork. Management of their resources was based on Malama �Aina (caring for the land), an ideal still alive among Hawaiians today. Successful farming, fishing and gathering depended also on the concepts of lokahi (working together) and laulima (many hands). Lo'i kalo (taro patches), fishing shrines, heiau (temples), canoe ramps, and retaining walls are lasting reminders of these dynamic cultural ideals.
Hawaiians adapted to some Western influences on dress and architectural elements such as the Western door. At the same time they maintained their basic cultural identity and continue to live in extended families. This social unit remained intact for pursuing agricultural and cooperative fishing ventures and gathering materials. The halau (long house) was the gathering place for many people. Buildings were usually thatched with pili grass, although other materials, including lauhala (pandanus leaves), were used. Being greeted with aloha and invited into a home to eat (Aloha, e �ai kakou) is still a primary requisite of good manners in the Hawaiian Islands.
Hawaiians showed great skill in creating ingenious and beautiful practical items from stone, bone, wood, and shell. A broad range of tools and utensils such as poi pounders, fish hooks, octopus lures, and adzes were fashioned using only stone implements. The poi pounder was one of the most frequently used. Poi was prepared daily by pounding cooked corms (underground stems) of the kalo plant and thinning with water to the desired consistence.
Agricultural practices in the Islands were carefully managed according to the rhythms of nature. Mahi'ia (farmers) specialized in growing crops such as kalo, or �uala (sweet potato). The Hawaiian calendar recommended planting based on the changes of a year round growing season. As with much of Hawaiian life, respect for the spiritual realm was shown during every phase of planting and harvesting. Fundamental patterns of Hawaiian culture were based on the planting and growing cycle of this plant. The concept of �ohana (the family) is derived from �oha, the sprout used to propagate kalo. The �ohana worked together to build extensive irrigated terraces for the growth of more than 300 varieties of kalo.
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