Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Puʻu Kukui ("Hill of Enlightenment")

First, a disclosure – it pains me that I have not seen this place firsthand, on the ground or in the air.  I remember, while I was at DLNR, some folks mentioning that I should go see it … I never did.  (I still think about that.)

Someday, I will.  This place looks waaay too cool to miss.

The Pu`u Kukui Watershed Preserve (Pu`u Kukui Preserve) was established in 1988 to protect watershed forests and associated native plants and animals.

A subsidiary of Maui Land & Pineapple, Inc. (ML&P) owns the property and began management programs in August 1988, under a management agreement with The Nature Conservancy of Hawai`i.

The Pu‘u Kukui Preserve stretches from about 480 feet elevation at Honokōhau Stream to the Pu‘u Kukui summit - the highest point on Mauna Kahalawai (West Maui) at 5,788 feet elevation.  It lies between the Kahakuloa and Honokowai sections of the state’s West Maui Natural Area Reserve.  

These three areas, together with the 1,264 acre Kapunakea Preserve (managed by The Nature Conservancy of Hawai‘i), form 13,000 acres of contiguous forests that are protected by the programs of state and private natural area managers.

The Pu‘u Kukui Preserve encompasses a very large area, much of which is remote and extremely rugged.  Access to the Preserve is restricted by ML&P. 

This policy is intended to minimize trampling of fragile soils and rare plants, prevent the spread of weeds by hikers, and protect public safety. 

At over 8,600-acres, the Pu`u Kukui Preserve is the largest privately-owned nature preserve in the state.

The rain forests, shrub lands and bogs of the Pu‘u Kukui Preserve serve as a significant water source for West Maui residents and industries.

It is the summit of Mauna Kahalawai and the West Maui mountainside that form a backdrop to Kapalua Resort, Kā‘anapali Resort and broader West Maui community.  It is home to plant and animal species that exist nowhere else in Hawai‘i, let alone the rest of the world.

It’s also one of the wettest spots on earth (average yearly rainfall at the rain gage since 1928 is about 364 inches;) Pu‘u Kukui is a natural watershed on most of the West Maui community rely for water.

Conservation measures expanded in 1998, when the property was included in the West Maui Mountains Watershed Partnership.

The West Maui Mountains Watershed Partnership, like other Hawai‘i Watershed partnerships is a voluntary alliances of public and private landowners committed to the common value of protecting large areas of forested watersheds for water recharge and conservation values.

This partnership coordinates conservation efforts of the private and public landholding entities of Mauna Kahalawai (West Maui mountains), allowing for management of natural systems regardless of property boundaries. 

The preserve is home to at least 36 species of rare plants, three native forest birds, and at least seven species of rare native tree snails.  It stretches from the 480 foot elevation at Honokōhau Stream to the 5,788 foot elevation at the Pu‘u Kukui Summit.

The rain forest and the shrub lands of the area serve as a significant water source for both West Maui residents and industries alike.

The image outlines the Maui Land & Pine Pu‘u Kukui Watershed preserve.  In addition, I have included some other images that depict some of the waterfalls and other features in and around this area of the West Maui Mountains in a folder of like name in the Photos section on my Facebook page.

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