MAHALO, WALK FOR THE WILD
September/October 2024 TBD
Friends of Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Refuge will host the 3rd Annual WALK FOR THE WILD in fall, 2024. WALK FOR THE WILD is a unique opportunity to visit a magical destination on MaunaKea with a dozen stations along the limited access 5K Pua Akala loop sprinkled with knowledgeable biologists, botanists, entomologists, and other natural history interpreters. Those of you not able to attend in person, can register and walk 5k wherever you are, and celebrate National Wildlife Refuge Week from a distance.
While participation is FREE, you can support the Friends of Hakalau Forest NWR by donating to our team by checking the donate option.
In 2023, registration was capped at 500 registrants which were filled up in September, so please register early.
Registration will go live on September 1st – check back here then!
WHAT IS WALK FOR THE WILD?
The National Wildlife Refuge System (NWRS) is the largest system of public lands and waters in the world. Home to thousands of iconic wildlife species and the backdrop to some of the best wildlife viewing opportunities on earth, NWRS sites are located in all 50 states and are mostly within a couple of hours’ drive from metro areas. There are 588 National Wildlife Refuges across the US, including 11 within Hawaii, 2 units of which are on the Big Island (Hakalau Forest Unit and Kona Forest Unit), the only refuges in Hawaii protecting native forest birds.
WALK FOR THE WILD went nation wide in 2022 as a signature annual event to coincide with National Wildlife Refuge Week, observed the second week of October, this year from October 8– 14, 2023.
GIVING TO WALK FOR THE WILD
Gifts made through WALK FOR THE WILD are administered under contract with NWRS. All donation receipts will be issued by Public Lands Alliance. By donating to Team Friends of Hakalau Forest, your gift will go to FOHF to help support this unique habitat.. In 2022, FOHF received over $7,300 in donations through WALK FOR THE WILD.
HAKALAU FOREST NWR – WALK FOR THE WILD 2023 RECAP
For the Second year in a row, Team Friends of Hakalau Forest NWR outdistanced the other 46 Refuge Friends Teams from around the Nation in celebrating National Wildlife Refuge Week with a special 5K WALK FOR THE WILD.
Just short of 500 “Walkers” were treated to a spectacular day guided by two dozen natural history experts along the Pua Akala Track of the Hakalau Forest NWR. Walkers boots were cleaned by Pat Hart’s UH Hilo LOHE Lab under the watchful eyes of and with materials provided by JB Friday from the ‘Ōhi‘a Love (ROD) initiative.
Ten natural history exhibitors also unpacked the mysteries of Hakalau’s forest and it’s over a dozen threatened and endangered native birds and plants. Over a half dozen Refuge Service personnel were on hand to mix with Walkers and to proudly talk story regarding the Treasures of Hakalau’s forest under their protection. All for FREE!!! Nothing can compare to this experience, which began at the 6,500 foot elevation off Mana Road.
None of this would have happened if it weren’t for the 80 or so Friends volunteers chaired by Ken Kupchak, herded by Dick Wass, Day of the Event Coordinator, Patty Kupchak, National Registration Coordinator and co-honcho with Susan Miyasaka on exhibitors, publicity, and volunteers. Cathy Lowder covered the Friends’ Tent gathering place, Don Wier and Pippa Swannell managed the parking of 190 cars. Layne Yoshida’s gate crews handled single lane comings and goings through two gates, and Jack Jeffrey wrangled our expert guides.
Leah Messer, the Refuge’s Volunteer Services Coordinator, interfaced with us at every turn and in every way. Bruce Dempsey, Refuge Maintenance Chief, prepared the grounds and ensured that support services were in place. Tim Cusack, Service Pacific Basin Security Chief was not only a visible force on site, but he also teamed with volunteer Dr. Judith Lively to provide EMT support. Laura Beauregard, Acting Pacific Basin Chief of Refuges and Monuments, flew in from Honolulu to walk with all of us on behalf of the Service.
Eldridge Naboa, Nanea Valleros, and Lahela Camara beautifully lead us in oli and protocols to obtain permission from the forest to enter. And on this beautiful day, Springer Kaye, the Refuge’s Acting Manager, was there for everyone sporting the biggest smile in this special forest!
Once more, as we watched the Walkers depart, each face was smiling, hands were waiving, and each and every one sent their mahalos as they left our special forest. Reward enough and then some. Mahalo to each and every one of you, whether you be walker, volunteer, or staff- see you and your many new Friends again in 2024 as we try for a NATIONAL THREE PEAT!
Please watch and share the 2022 WALK FOR THE WILD celebration video – we’re excited to share our success stories. Be sure to check out one of our valued FOHF Board Members and WFTW Team Leader, Ken Kupchak, talking about the 2022 Hakalau Forest NWR WFTW experience at 7 min 25 sec.