Copyright: US Fish and Wildlife Service
Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Refuge
Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Refuge consists of the 33,000-acre Hakalau Forest and the 5,300-acre Kona Forest on the Big Island (Island of Hawaii). The Hakalau district of the refuge was established in 1985 to conserve endangered forest birds and their rain forest habitat. Eight endangered bird species, an endangered bat and nine endangered plant species exist in this district.
- Habitats include grassland and open woodland at the highest elevations, which are frequented by the kolea (golden plover), the pueo (Hawaiian short-eared owl), the Eurasian skylark and eight species of introduced game birds. Below about 5,500 feet, the majestic koa and red-blossomed 'ohi'a trees form a closed canopy forest with an understory of native trees, shrubs and ferns. Here Hawaiian honeycreepers, including the 'i'iwi, 'apapane and 'amakihi, are abundant. Even the rare and endangered 'akiapola'au, Hawaii 'akepa, Hawaii creeper and the i'o (Hawaiian hawk) can be found along with the more common 'elepaio and oma'o. At elevations below about 4,000 feet, bogs, fern patches and scrubby rain forest dominate the terrain which is dissected by numerous deep gulches. Few native birds are found at the lower elevations because of mosquito-borne diseases such as avian malaria.
The Kona Forest district is somewhat drier than the Hakalau Unit. It also protects endangered plants and animals, including some of the last remaining endangered 'alala (Hawaiian crow) living in the wild. This area supports substantial populations of the same native and endangered birds that occur within the Hakalau Unit, the endangered Hawaiian hoary bat and a high diversity of common and rare mesic forest plants and invertebrates.
Recreation - Portions of the refuge are open to the public for bird watching and pig hunting but a long trip by four-wheel-drive vehicle is required.
Climate - The climate of this Pacific Island is sunny, hot and dry throughout the year. Winter months are somewhat cooler. Light comfortable clothing and walking shoes are appropriate for all seasons. Sunscreen and hats with visors are recommended for skin protection. The elevation in the districts of the refuge factor into the air temperatures. Visitors should consider that for every 1,000 feet in elevation gained the temperature drops four degrees F.
The Hakalau district of the refuge is located on the windward (eastern) slope of Mauna Kea on the northern portion of the island, between the elevations of 2,500 and 6,600 feet. The Kona Forest is located on the leeward (western) flank of Mauna Loa in the southern portion of the island, between the elevations of 2,000 and 6,000 feet.