Hawaii Volcanoes National Park Doubles In Size
The National Park Service and The Nature Conservancy have jointly purchased the 116,000 acre Kahuku Ranch on the big island of Hawaii for addition to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. The $22 million purchase, which was closed last week, increases the size of the 217,000 acre park by 50 percent, and is the largest land conservation transaction in Hawaii’s history.
“This property is home to dozens of rare and endangered plant and bird species found nowhere else on Earth,” said Steve McCormick, president of The Nature Conservancy. “It is truly one of Hawaii’s last great places.”
The federal government has secured $16 million of the funding needed to buy the ranch, which consists of lava flows, forests containing koa and ohi’a trees, ancient Hawaiian archeological sites, and pasture land.
The Nature Conservancy provided bridge financing for the remaining $6 million. Once Congress appropriates that additional funding, the Conservancy will be reimbursed and transfer the remainder of the ranch to the National Park Service.
“Hawaii Volcanoes National Park has held a long and abiding interest in adding portions of Kahuku Ranch to the Park since 1938, and it has been the number one land acquisition priority for the entire National Park Service since 2001,” said Jim Martin, superintendent of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. “I have worked for the National Park Service for 40 years and I have seen magnificent areas throughout the world. Kahuku Ranch has world class qualities – tremendous resources, tremendous beauty, and tremendous value to global biodiversity.”
Kahuku Ranch runs along the slopes of the Mauna Loa volcano from about 2,000 feet to 13,000 feet in elevation.
Martin explained that the property encompasses spectacular and diverse native ecosystems, from montane mesic forest and shrubland, to dry forest and shrubland, to the subalpine and alpine communities above 6,500 feet. Placing the ranch within the national park will allow the Park Service to manage the threat of non-native mammals such as wild cattle, pigs and mouflon sheep, as well as invasive weeds and wildland fire.
Provided by theEnvironmental News Service.