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Controlled burn planned at HVNP (Aug. 19)


The fire management team at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is planning a controlled burn at Kealakomowaena on Friday, Aug. 19, near the bottom of Chain of Craters Road.

The 130-acre burn will regenerate the growth of native pili grass and other indigenous plant species, as well as maintain a cultural landscape once occupied by families living in the Kealakomo ahupuaa.

There are no closures planned, and park visitors and normal park activities will not be impacted.

Kealakomowaena is an island of vegetation, or kipuka, spared by recent lava flows in the middle of the Kealakomo ahupuaa.

Hawaiians thrived in this coastal lowland area, growing sweet potatoes, harvesting fish and drying salt. House sites, trails, lava rock walls and agricultural plots are found throughout Kealakomowaena. The controlled burn will be done in a manner to help maintain the traditional landscape of the area.

Controlled burning is part of a comprehensive restoration plan for the coastal lowland ecosystem at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Historically, controlled fire in this area has proved beneficial in reducing the dominant alien woody plant and grass species, allowing park resource managers to plant seeds of native species and reintroduce the pili grassland system.

An eight-person fire crew will administer the controlled burn, expected to last all day Friday. There will be a pullout along Chain of Craters Road at the top of the Holei Pali where park visitors may stop and watch the controlled burn taking place throughout the day.

“These types of prescribed burns are beneficial as they fortify the cultural landscape by stimulating the growth of native vegetation,” Fire Management Officer Joe Molhoek said.

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