Pu’u Kukui Watershed Preserve is the largest private nature preserve in the state of Hawai՝i. Extending across more than 9,000 acres from Honokowai and Honokohau Valleys on the north to the summit of Pu‘u Kukui on the South. This pristine area is a vital water source for Mauiʻs community and one of the wettest spots on earth. The Preserve is home to 300 native and endemic plant species, including Koa and the threatened Hawaiian state tree ‘Ohi’a both of which help stabilize soil during heavy rains and stand as a symbol of native Hawaiian culture. A number of the Preserve’s plant and animal species are found nowhere else on Earth and are listed on the federal threatened or endangered species lists. Conservation endeavors include removing non-native invasive species, environmentally safe weed control, monitoring, research and most importantly protecting rare species.
Before its designation as a preserve, the Pu‘u Kukui Watershed was heavily impacted by agriculture, development, and deforestation. Not only did these activities significantly alter the area’s natural habitats, but also made it easier for invasive species to dominate large parts of the watershed.
Today, invasive plant, bird, and animal species are among the top threats to the health of the watershed. Feral pigs, for example, disrupt the natural soil and ground cover with their foraging and rooting. Once the soil is destabilized, the watershed can experience significant erosion. Not only does this mean less water is retained, but much of eroded soil ends up in the ocean, smothering West Maui’s reefs.
The Pu‘u Kukui Watershed Preserve has a small but very active team making a sizable difference for the island of Maui. They rely heavily on the work and support of volunteers, and are always looking for new hands to join in on projects. Here are some ways you can support their work:
- Volunteer – You can specify your area of interest in volunteering, such as field work, office work, beach cleanups, seed collection, or something else.
- Donate – Pu‘u Kukui Watershed accepts donations online or by check. Please make checks payable to: “Friends of Pu‘u Kukui Watershed, Account 0125.” Mail checks to: Friends of Pu‘u Kukui Watershed c/o Tri-Isle, PO Box 338, Kahului, HI 96733
- Become a Corporate or Business Sponsor – Businesses can support the Pu‘u Kukui Watershed in a variety of ways, including volunteer work days and monetary donations.