National Park Service firefighters have spent the week trying to prevent the wild fire ignited by Kilauea Volcano from spreading through a protected rain forest that is inhabited by endangered Hawaiian plants and animals.
Nearly 100 acres of the 2,750-acre east rift zone’s special ecological area, an intact lowland rain forest, have already destroyed in the fire ignited March 5 by an eruption at the Kamoamoa fissure.
As of today, the Napau wildfire on the east rift zone of the Big Island’s Kilauea volcano has destroyed 2,000 acres approximately seven miles southeast of the Kilauea Visitor Center.
The area is the home of the endangered Hawaiian bat, Hawaiian hawk, and other uniquely Hawaiian plants and animals such as Hawaiian thrush, lama and sandalwood trees, happy face spiders, carnivorous caterpillars, and Hawaiian honeycreepers said Gary Wuchner, National Park Service fire information spokesman.
Mardi Lane, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park spokeswoman, described the area as “pristine.”
“It best represents what Hawaii was and is a seed source for plants and refuge for birds,” Lane said.
“It is a living laboratory of Hawaiian plants and animals.”
Firefighters will be working to keep flames from spreading beyond the 100 acres of the refuge
It’s an uncommon dining experience: you turn mauka off the highway in Kilauea, there are no advertisements, no string of cars looking for parking, no delivery trucks dropping off packaged food. No, it feels more like you have stumbled upon a 60-acre farm that happens to have a tranquil, open-air restaurant, where bananas and coconuts hang from the doors. A few feet beyond the tables are herb gardens. Beyond that is a massive garden, with rows and rows of vegetables. “You can sit down and look at where your food is coming from,” said Jay Sklar, chef and food-services director.
The Garden restaurant at Common Ground — a resource center for the community with many projects focused on sustainability — is leading the way to show what is possible for restaurants who embrace the “farm-to-fork” concept. When Common Ground — formerly Guava Kai Plantation — began the farming process over two years ago, the old guava trees, which were no longer able to produce fruit, were cut and chipped into a nitrogen-rich compost to make the soil healthy. They now continue to make their own compost with various materials on site, and mix it with oxygenated water in order to make a “tea” they spray on the crops. Sklar said they use no petro chemicals, and the practice of permaculture is used, meaning the landscaping is edible and plants are strategically placed in order to naturally benefit each other.