Friends of Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Refuge

Spring 2023 Newsletter

President's Perch Spring 2023

J.B. Friday

President, Friends of Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Refuge

In This Issue



Volunteers Needed!

Welcome to new Refuge Staff

Refuge Update

Holoholo Challenge Update

Donor Mahalos

A Tale of Two Species

T-Shirts are Back!

Those who attended the Friends’ annual membership meeting inJanuary were treated to an outstanding lecture by Lucas Fortini, research ecologist at the USGS Pacific Islands Ecosystems Research Center. Dr. Fortini spoke on environmental change in Hawai‘i and how it will affect Hakalau. He showed how current trends point to a climate with drier dry seasons and wetter wet seasons and overall higher temperatures. Records from both the main unit and the Kona unit at Hakalau have both shown gradual but steady increases in temperature, and droughts in Kona have been more frequent and more severe over the past 30 years than previously. The trade wind inversion, which is that warm air layer that caps the upper cloud layer that you see sometimes on the Refuge, may move lower, leaving the upper reaches of Hakalau even drier. Wildfires, which are most severe when a very dry season occurs after a very wet season, are predicted to increase. Overall, habitat for our forest birds is shrinking, as warmer temperatures allow mosquito populations to survive at higher elevations and bring avian diseases with them, and a warmer, drier habitat at upper elevations reduces habitat.

Staff at the Refuge and other land managers on Maunakea have been discussing how to adapt to these changes. One method is to reconsider the mix of tree species used to reforest former pastures. Māmane (Sophora chrysophylla) is both more drought tolerant and cold tolerant than koa. Furthermore, the flowers provide a nectar source when other sources aren’t available. With support from the Friends, the Refuge has begun planting a māmane grove at the upper edge of the Refuge. Even with these anticipated changes, Hakalau is still the best habitat for native forest birds in the state. While there are still miles of mosquito-free forest on Maunakea, on O‘ahu and Kaua‘i the mosquito line has moved almost up to the tops of the ridges, leaving little habitat for their native birds.

Dr. Fortini’s talk is available on our Youtube channel,

Past, ongoing, and future environmental change at

Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Refuge

Dr. Lucas Fortini

Volunteers Needed!

Want to get involved with Friends of Hakalau Forest? We are currently looking to fill the following volunteer positions:

Bookkeeper: The Friends of Hakalau need someone to assist the Treasurer with tracking income and expenditures, monthly financial reports for the Board of Directors, and filing of state and federal forms as needed. We currently use Excel and need help to move to an accounting software program. Estimated volunteer time is about 4-6 hours a month.

T-shirt Fulfillment: The steps of this activity involve: print orders from our e-mail store; pick up t-shirt(s) from storage; pack in box or envelope; purchase and print postage label; and arrange pick up or take to post office. Estimated volunteer time is about 4-6 hours a month.

For more information call Cathy at 808-961-6142. 

Welcome New Refuge Staff Members

Fish and Wildlife Service

Springer Kaye - Wildlife Refuge Specialist

Springer Kaye came on board as the new Wildlife Refuge Specialist in May 2022. She previously served as the Manager of the Big Island Invasive Species Committee (BIISC) for nine years and has over 20 years of experience working on research, conservation, and invasive species management projects in Hawaii. Springer started her career as a USGS intern at Hakalau Forest NWR in 1999 measuring the effects of predator control on nesting success and also managed the UH Research Station on the refuge.

Kaye earned her MS in Tropical Conservation Biology and Environmental Science from UH Hilo, a BA in Environmental Studies from Pomona College, and attended Punahou School. She and her partner are raising kids and lychee on a small farm north of Hilo.  

Welcome Springer! 

Eldridge Naboa - Wildlife Biologist

Eldridge Naboa has been selected as the Wildlife Biologist for the Big Island NWRC and will begin working in his new role at the refuge in late February 2023. Eldridge comes to us from Midway Island NWR where he most recently has served as the Deputy Refuge Manager. Eldridge has worked for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for the past 6 years in both the Refuge and Ecological Services divisions.

He was born and raised in Nāʻālehu, Kaʻū and graduated from Kaʻū High School. Eldridge received his Bachelors degree in Zoology from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. He has worked in the field of conservation biology for almost 20 years and is passionate about conserving our native Hawaiian forests and native Hawaiian forest birds.

El also enjoys outreach and education and is a strong advocate working with local communities and sharing our conservation work with the next generation of ʻāina (land) stewards. In his spare time, El enjoys being active: hiking, running, biking, and swimming, and participating in many race events including the Honolulu Marathon!

Welcome Eldridge!

Refuge Update

Visitor Services Manager, FWS

The final survey of the recent 640-acre acquisition from McCandless Ranch was completed on Feb 6, 2023, adding it to the Kona Forest Unit. Our staff is working with Realty Division on a recent land donation; more details to come as we work through the acquisition process. In other news, high winds from a recent storm have resulted in widespread damage to refuge fence lines. We’ve met with state DOFAW personnel to discuss the damage to the boundary fence from trees in the adjacent Forest Reserve and are working towards a solution. Additionally, the refuge pest control team (Jardine and Bishop), assisted by a NPS fire crew, have cleared many downed trees along various other fence lines. 

The small mammal predator trapping grid at the Admin Site has been expanded. Mackenzie completed an installation of 30 self-resetting rodent traps in and around the rare plant exclosures along with rodent tracking tunnels to measure their progress. The Pest control team remains extremely busy and recently completed additional training on the Pig Brig feral pig trapping system along with 30 other individuals from local conservation programs. 

As we move into the spring, seeds provided to the state tree nursery for propagation are expected to be delivered between April – May. Maintenance Mechanic Bruce Dempsey led an ATV/UTV training class for our staff and pacific islands law enforcement staff; this class was also attended by a USFS member. Lastly, the preparation to move out of our Hilo office space continues as we coordinate with IT staff to move the refuge server. 

Hawaiian Airlines Holoholo Challenge Update

Hawaiian Airlines' third annual Holoholo Challenge took place during October 2022 with participants selecting and completing walking, hiking and running courses of various lengths throughout the state. Hawaiian Airlines generously named Friends of Hakalau Forest NWR as the sole beneficiary. In late December, our group received an amazing check for $33,000 which was raised by over 6,000 participants who logged well over half a million miles!

You can read more about the partnership between Hawaiian Airlines and the Friends of Hakalau Forest NWR in this column by CEO Peter Ingram in the February-March issue of Hana Hou, copied below. No doubt some of you already read this story when flying with Hawaiian Airlines recently. 

We are extremely grateful to Hawaiian Airlines and ALL the Holoholo Challenge participants - mahalo!


Friends of Hakalau Forest Donors 2022

Friends of Hakalau Forest would like to send our sincerest "Mahalo" to all of our donors in 2022. We could not do it without your continued support!

$1,000 to 4,999  Bovard & Colette Doerschuk-Tiberi; John Drouilhet; Joseph Herron & Patricia Baird; Malama Aloha Fund; David McCauley; and Danya Weber. 

$500 to $999  Amit & Robin; Kate Hagenbuch Martel Fund; Network For Good; Ann Rothe; Ivan Samuels; and Lynette Williams. 

General donations up to $499  Malia Alatasi; Rebecca Baybrook, Chris Davidson; Karen Dunn; Jane & Paul Field; Maureen Foerster; Craig Forman; Carolyn Fraser; Margot & John Griffith; Valrie Griffith; Stephanie Levins; Caren Loebel-Fried; Catherine Luthe; Denise Mackey; Katherine McClure; Maile McLaughlin; John Michael; Shirley Mendoza; Berl & Karen Nussbaum; Alexandra Petroff; Liane Scott; Ethan Seltzer & Melanie Plaut; Thomas Spies; Michelle Suber; Jordan Takekawa; Michaell Tomich & Hanna Springer; Sara Vickerman-Gage; Deborah Ward; Roger Weiss; Willard Wells; Layne & Lynn Yoshida. 

Photo Credit: Jack Jeffrey

Membership for 2022 

Corporate level $250  Maelisa & Grace Reed

Sponsors $100  This year we recognize and appreciate our large group of Sponsors.

Debbie & Bruce Anderson; Jonathan Andrew; Denise Antolini; Daniel & Sylvia Belcher; Anne Brooke; Patricia Brust; Sharon Bushell; Robert Butchart; Stephen Carroll; Mary Collar; Julie Denslow; David Dunbar; Lorraine Ellison; Alice Findler; Susan Frank; Andrea Gill, Keith Gress; Cynthia Granholm; Veda Hackell; Pat Hart; Evan Hoffman; Rob & Debbie Hollyer; Lea Hong; Richard Howard; Brody James; Mark & Carol Johnson; Kristine Karnos; Pauline Kawamata; Dianne Kiel-Jones; Thomas Kualii; Mauri Long; Milton Lum; Andrew McCormick; Carol McMillian; Paul McMurray; Melissa Meiser; Meredith Miller; Donald Mitchell; Cheryl Mukai; Munro, Susan & Kerry Glass; Karen Nakasone; Geoff Nelson; Pam Omidyar; Eben Paxton; Susan Pope; Jonathan Portis; Linda Reed; Tom & Sally Reeve; Patricia Richardson; Laurie Saarinen; Lester Sakamoto; Ellen Schwenne; Reena Shah; Steven Skrocki; Tom Snetsinger; Lisa Spain; Mary & Scott Spears; Scott Starratt; Peter Stine; Brian Sturges; Talbert Takahama; David Thai; David Trauger; Edward Wetherell; Linda Kay Whitney; and Gaylord Wilcox.  

These donations support our office operations (website, financial and newsletter software, insurance etc) and allow the Friends to support the refuge (pig brigs, mamane seedlings, Pat Hart’s mosquito early warning system, etc.).

Donors to the endowment will be recognized in a separate email with some exciting news!

A Tale of Two Species

Marcia Stone

Mint is an important culinary and medicinal herb, used by people world-wide for its strong aroma and taste. Hawai’i has four genera of native mint plants, two of which are endemic. During their long period of isolation from the world of man and beast, Hawaiian mints lost the defensive chemicals that give other mints their distinctive taste and smell. Since there were no grazing animals in Hawaii to eat them no chemicals were needed.

Fast-forward to our era, and we have grazing animals plus mints without defenses. That equals extinction. But in this gloomy saga of extinction, there are some bright spots, and here are two.

Native Mint Honohono

(Phyllostegia brevidens)

Photo Credit: Jack Jeffrey

At the Brink: Haplostachys (honohono) is an endemic genus of mint known from all the islands. Four of its five species are extinct. The remaining species (Haplostachys haplostachya) had a wild population found only on the Big Island in areas bordered by

Hualalai, Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa. These few populations are now fenced to protect them from predators. The Pohakuloa Training Area cares for over 90% of these plants, conserving their seeds for out-planting. Honohono was once found on Maui and Kaua’i; if conditions become more favorable, they may once again be found there.

Back from the Brink: Phyllostegia brevidens has an historic range of East Hawai’i Island and Kipahulu Valley on Maui. However, it had not been seen for a hundred years when it was rediscovered at Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Refuge by staff members.

Baron Horiuchi, who was the horticulturalist at the Refuge, got to work and propagated over 1,000 plants of this mint which were subsequently out-planted in the protected forests of Hakalau. Other facilities are now also trying to keep this native plant alive.

If you are looking to identify mints, check for the characteristic square stem and opposite leaves. Our native mints are found in moist and dry climates, depending on the species, and are mostly easy to propagate. Just remember, these mintless mints are better left in the ground than in your iced tea.

This particular mint is insect pollenated. It has white flowers that are very fragrant to attract native moths that pollinate the plants at night. Occasionally, I'iwi can't resist feeding on these nectar laden flowers, and I was lucky enough to be able to video this rare event. 

By the way.....have you ever had mintless mint tea? I bet you have. Hot water?

Credit: Jack Jeffrey

Link to the 'i'iwi and mint video from Jack Jeffrey



Purchase Your T-Shirts Here!

Back by popular demand! The Friends of Hakalau Forest T-Shirts are now available using the link above. We have men's, women's, and children's sizes in long and short-sleeved styles.

The Friends of Hakalau is a membership organization. Membership dues and donations to the Friends are our only source of funds allowing us to cover our expenses (for example this newsletter) and to make grants.
Every Wednesday on HPR listen to Manu Minute created by Patrick Hart, member of the Friends since its inception and a board member for multiple terms. Click the button to hear the segments that have already been aired.

Friends of Hakalau Forest, National Wildlife Refuge is a 501 (C)(3) organization and is recognized as a tax exempt non-profit organization by the Federal government and the State of Hawaii. We appreciate and thank you for your membership and your donations.




   J.B. Friday

Vice President

   Debbie Anderson


   Peter Stine


   Marsha Stone

Members at large

Ken Kupchak

Jane Mayo

Susan Miyasaka

Brett Mossman

Mike Scott  

Rob Shallenberger

Jaime Tanino

Ross Wilson

Chris Yuen


Assistant Treasurer

Cathy Lowder

Volunteer Membership Database Managers

Jane Mayo

Suzy Lauer

Newsletter Editor

Alyssa MacDonald

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