Projects & Stories

BoundarywallBoundary Wall for Project at Kalaupapa. Picture Credit NPS

Made Possible via HPI-CESU

Projects that have been funded through the HPI-CESU agreement include research across the biological, physical, and social sciences as well as support for cultural, educational, and technical programs.

To find out more about how we fund projects please see our information and FAQs.

To see lists of current opportunities, or to look through previously offered opportunities please check our opportunities page or our other opportunities page. If you would like to be kept informed of future HPI-CESU postings contact Sharon Ziegler-Chong to be added to our listserv.

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National Parks Service Highlights

Akāka Wale o Haleakalā: Haleakalā Stands in Full View


This project was funded by the National Park Service through a collaboration between the NPS and the University of Hawaiʻi. The project was conducted through the Hawaiʻi-Pacific Islands Cooperative Ecosystem Studies Unit, Agreement Number P20AC00973. The oral history interviews were conducted by a team from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoaʻs Center for Oral History composed of Davianna Pōmaikaʻi McGregor, Micah Mizukami and Alana Kanahele, in cooperation with the National Park Service. So far, thirteen former and current park staff, and community members with close ties to Haleakalā National Park, have contributed their stories, which have been transcribed and archived.

Kumu (Purpose)

This news event presents the results of a Hawaii-Pacific Islands Cooperative Research Studies Unit project carried out in 2021 by researchers from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa’s Center for Oral History and NPS staff. As part of its commitment to conservation of natural and cultural resources, the park actively engages with the Native Hawaiian and local communities and respects their input whenever and wherever possible. The oral history team interviewed 13 present and past park staff and community members with close ties to Haleakalā National Park. The kumu (purpose) of the project was to explore the history of early park natural resource management through the voices of people who have worked in and experienced the park over many years. In the late 1970s, Haleakalā National Park began building a series of fences around the perimeter of the park to exclude feral ungulates (goats, pigs, deer and cattle), and preserve native habitat, and care for native wildlife. The park decision to build and maintain what is now 54 miles of fence lines is meant to perpetuate Hawaiian places, place names and mo‘olelo (stories) by preserving the native plants, animals, and habitats protected by the fences. The oral history team focused on this fence-building effort throughout the interviews to understand the challenges and outcomes of the effort.

Notes on Oral Histories

The interviews for this project were conducted by Alana Kanahele, graduate research assistant at the Center for Oral History at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. Interviews were conducted both online via Zoom from February to April, 2021, and in-person on Maui in May and June. Interview sessions lasted between one to three hours. The interviews followed a life history approach, and question guides were designed specific to each narrator following an unrecorded pre-interview. Narrators were asked about their personal background, connection to Haleakalā, relationship to the national park, role in stewarding the land, Native Hawaiian cultural practices, and hopes for the future of Haleakalā. During the interviews, narrators were also asked to identify the locations they worked within the park or areas that they had a personal connection to on maps. Kanahele transcribed the interviews almost verbatim. NPS Kupu Intern Emily Creek transcribed the interviews of Legario "Hanky" Eharis and Walter Pu. The transcripts were then sent to narrators for their review, edits and approval. NPS staff also reviewed the transcripts to redact any sensitive information related to park operations. The transcripts are edited slightly for clarity and historical accuracy by the narrators.The transcripts and archival documents associated with the project may be accessed via the UH Mānoa ScholarSpace:

Walter Pu talks about how he started working in Kīpahulu (Video Credit: NPS Haleakalā)

For the full story and interviews visit: Akāka Wale O Haleakalā Story

For more about this project visit: Scholar Space Mānoa UH News

The Effect of Climate Change on the Haleakalā Silverswords

The Haleakala Silversword (Argyroxiphium sandwicense subsp. macrocephalum) is the iconic symbol of Haleakalā National Park. One of two subspecies, macrocephalum is found only on the island of Maui within the summit and on surrounding slopes of Haleakalā volcano. Silverswords live between 20 and 90 years. “They flower only once, sending up a spectacular flowering stalk, and then die soon afterward, scattering drying seeds to the wind.”1 A visit to the park would not be complete without viewing its spectacular silver succulent leaves.

slopes Slopes of Haleakalā Above the Clouds (Photo by: J. Moniz Nakamura)

Haleakalasilversword The Haleakalā Silversword in Bloom (Photo by: J. Moniz Nakamura)

outplanting NPS Staff Out Planting at Puʻu Alaea (Photo Credit: NPS)

The ability of the silversword to survive in hot, dry climates like the aeolian desert cinder slopes of the crater are a testament to its tenacity. The species, however, is in decline. Estimates in 2013 put the population size at 40,000. Decades of impact, particularly in the years prior to establishment of the park, contributed to the decrease in numbers. Prior to becoming a National Park, Haleakalā was part of a working ranch. While under ranching, the silverswords were left unprotected, and years of grazing by roaming ungulates, human trampling and uprooting took its toll. The plant was pushed to its limits, and it was listed as a threatened species in 1992. The National Park Service engaged in proactive work to save the species. The park fenced the crater to protect native flora and fauna from invasive ungluates and began a campaign to educate visitors on properly viewing and enjoying the silverswords. Despite these efforts, the decline continued through the 1990s and 2000s. Researchers began to investigate the decline and identified one variable they had difficulty controlling – a changing climate.

Climate change may be the new primary threat, replacing or exacerbating the historic impact from humans and ungulates. It is predicted that a changing climate may lead to a decrease in precipitation and an increase in temperature in Hawaiʻi. Hotter days and less rain may threaten even the hardiest silversword. Researchers with the University of Hawaiʻi and park staff partnered to carry out a project through the Hawaiʻi-Pacific Islands Cooperative Ecosystems Studies Unit to study how drought conditions affect the species. As predicted, climate change effects of increasing frequency of drought conditions does have an impact on the silversword.

Video by: Admin PICC Youtube

Preservation at Kalaupapa

Kaluapapa National Historical Park (KALA) is home to some of the most intact archeological complexes in the Hawaiian Islands. Widely known for its association with the Hansen’s Disease settlement of the 19th and 20th century, evidence of precontact and early historic Hawaiian activity abound. Several hundred sites are documented, but thousands remain to be recorded. Archeological sites are non-renewable resources - unlike plants they do not grow or multiply. They are, however, vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, invasive plants and animals, and the ravages of time. Through a partnership with the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, the park undertook a program to relocate, document and update the condition of 66 known archeological sites on the peninsula.

Under the guidance of Principal Investigator Dr. James Bayman, graduate student C. Pūlama Lima completed much of the field work with the assistance of Park staff and students from Molokai Community College. A final report, authored by Lima, completed the final deliverable. Lima and her crew focused on 20 sites along the Pali Trail, 20 sites at the Kauhakō Crater, 19 sites along the Airport Road and seven additional “Priority Sites” which had not been visited in over 10 years.

For each site, the condition was noted and impacts to the site were evaluated. A photo of each feature was taken to be included in the site record as a means to document and monitor change over time. A GPS coordinate of the site was collected, and, if a site had not been mapped, a detailed sketch map was created for each. Mapping a site takes time and precise measurement, each rock and feature noted in its exact location in relation to each other.

All of these details, gathered and painstakingly collected, are critical for preserving and understanding the history of Kalaupapa. The information collected will help the park determine which sites may be threatened by invasive plants and animals, and develop plans for protection or maintenance. As keepers of our nations history, the staff at Kalauapapa and their partners at the University are working to preserve the culture and history of Kalaupapa for future generations who come to the island including visitors, kamaʻaina, descendants of patients, and Native Hawaiians with lineal ties to the land.

Boundary wall Documented Settlement Boundary Wall (Photo By: UH Mānoa)

Platform Holua Platform at Holua Sledding Course (Photo By: UH Mānoa)

Rockwall Preserved Rock Wall Outline within KALA (Photo By: UH Mānoa)

Perpetuating Samoan Traditions

The National Park of American Samoa (NPSA) consists of three units on three of the five islands that make up the US territory in the South Pacific. With a landmass slightly larger than Washington DC, residents live primarily along the coastline in small villages or towns. As modern and westernized lifestyles dramatically influence the Samoan culture, traditions are in danger of being lost. The crisis is accelerated as master practitioners pass away before they can pass down their knowledge to the next generation.

The National Park Service and community partners strive to preserve faʻasamoa – the customs, beliefs and traditions of the 3,000-year-old Samoan culture. Partnership agreements are proving to be key mechanism for such cultural preservation. For this project NPSA and the American Samoa Community College (ASCC) teamed up to bring together practitioners and students through a HIPI CESU collaboration. The goal was to teach traditional practices of making cloth printing, wood carving and fine mat weaving. Principal investigator and master practitioner Regina A. Meredith, MFA, a fourth generation siapo (printed cloth) maker led the project. Over the course of three years, students and teachers worked together to learn and create. The training was open to students enrolled at the American Samoa Community College (ASCC).

samoanart Student Carving Her Upeti (Tapa Pattern Board) (Photo By: R. Meredith)

traditionaltapa Students working on their tapa (Cloth) (Photo By: R. Meredith)

Samoanvaa Students and their finished paopao (canoe) (Photo By: R. Meredith)

tapa finished siapo (Samoan Tapa Cloth) (Photo By: R. Meredith)

Army Natural Resources Program Hightlights

Schofield's Native Orchard Supports

In 2017 the Army Natural Resources Program on O'ahu established Kahua, Schofield Barrack’s native seed orchard, in an attempt to overcome some of the many challenges associated with making conservation seed collections from wild populations of rare plant species. Accessibility to a plant’s remote and sometimes precarious location, low seed set in wild populations, difficulty in identifying mature fruit/seed, and timing seed collection efforts correctly, are all common obstacles when attempting to harvest from wild plants. Seed collection is an invaluable rare plant conservation tool, necessary to provide backup genetic storage in seed banks and as a source of propagules for reintroduction of rare plant resources.

An Inter-Situ Approach Maintaining a seed orchard is an intermediate approach (inter situ) to rare plant conservationthat falls between on-site conservation within natural plant populations (in situ) and off-site conservation (ex situ), where plants are maintained in botanic gardens or greenhouses. Inter situ sites for plants are generally locations that fall within the historic range of a given species, but outside of its current range, in settings where plants can be protected and managed and still experience natural climatic variation. Kahua is at the half-way point between highly managed living collections in the greenhouse and wild populations where plants largely fend for themselves. At an elevation of 290 meters (950 feet) and conveniently located five minutes down the road from the Army’s natural resources program baseyard, Schofield’s native seed orchard gives staff the ability to make controlled hand pollinations to improve seed production and to make observations on the reproductive biology and phenology of species that are difficult to understand. One challenging species that is currently planted at Kahua is kulu'i (Nototrichium humile).

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