Hakalau National Wildlife Refuge Field Trip

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Hakalau National Wildlife Refuge: Invasive plant control, native restoration, and native birds

Date: September 23, 2015
Time: 8:00am - 5:00pm (roundtrip from Waikoloa Beach Marriott Hotel)

  • Registration Deadline: Wednesday, September 2, 2015
  • Cost: $75 Per Person
  • Contingent on a minimum enrollment of 13 participants
  • Limited to 23 participants
  • Once the minimum enrollment has been confirmed, your payment will be processed
  • Cancellation deadline: September 2, 2015
  • Refunds will not be issued after September 2, 2015


  • Those with heart or lung conditions must be aware of altitude, weather and air changes
  • What To Wear: Comfortable walking/hiking shoes & long pants
  • What To Bring: Light rain gear, light jacket, towel, sun block, hat, at least 1 liter of water, & a camera


  • Roundtrip transportation (Waikoloa Beach Marriott)
  • Picnic lunch with beverage
  • Snacks & one bottle of water
  • Guided tour by volunteer avian ecologists
  • Stop at Hakalau National Wildlife Forest Reserve
  • Drive up Saddle Road
  • Stop on Mana Road


This trip will look at various invasions along an elevation gradient from Kona (sea level), up the eastern flank of Mauna Kea (1800m), but focus on higher elevation areas that were cleared for pasture and have been actively restored. We will discuss plant invasion, restoration success and limitations, and the role of domestic grazing and feral ungulates. Our final destination, Hakalau National Wildlife Forest Reserve is also one of the best places to observe Hawaiian honeycreepers, some of which are endangered, so avian ecologists will be on hand to point out bird species.

Our first stop will be at Waikoloa Dry Forest preserve to look at expansive fountain grass (Pennisetum setaceum) invasions and remnant/restored dry forest. Dry forest habitats are some of the most threatened across the globe. Our route will then take us up Saddle Road towards Mauna Kea/Mauna Loa, pointing out prominent invasions along the way such as Leucaena leucocephala and Senecio madagascariensis. After a short stop at Pu‘u huluhulu to see views of Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea, we will take Mauna Kea Access Road to Mana Rd and stop to look at gorse (Ulex europaeus) invasions. We will spend most of the day at Hakalau Forest, stopping first to look at Acacia koa reforestation areas with persistent alien grass understory, discuss restoration trial and error and persistent problems. We will also hike (1-2 miles depending on preference) down into intact forest areas and look for endangered plants and birds. Please be aware that hiking is on gravel roads at 1800 meter elevation (6000ft) in wet/mesic forest, so be prepared for warm and sun in the lowland forest, and damp, cool conditions in the upland forest.

Tentative Itinerary:

7:45am Board vans in front of Waikoloa Beach Marriott
8:00am Depart Hotel
8:30am - 9:30am Waikoloa Dry Forest Preserve

  • Pennisetum setaceum
  • Visit restored dry forest
En route Rangeland weeds, including:

  • Senecio madagascariensis, Leucaena leucocephala, Pennisetum clandestinum, Melinis repens, Verbascum thapsus
10:30am - 11:00am Pu‘u Huluhulu on Saddle Road.

  • Restroom (pit toilet); views of Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea, native mesic forest and invasive threats.
  • Delairea odorata, Senecio madagascariensis
11:30am Roadside stop – Mana Road

  • Ulex europaeus
Noon - 3:30pm Hakalau National Forest Wildlife Refuge

  • Sack lunch
  • Meet up with representatives from US Fish and Wildlife, US Geological Survey to discuss current management and research
  • View Pennisetum clandestinum invasion and Acacia koa reforestation
  • Hike 1-2 miles and bird watch/see intact mesic forest
En route Eucalyptus spp., Senecio madagascariensis, Opuntia
5:00pm Return to Waikoloa Beach Marriott

Route Map: