Maui’s Haleakala National Park will commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act during the first week of September with special programs and activities at all Haleakala NP visitor centers. Sept. 3 is the official 50th Anniversary of the legislation that gave public lands their highest level of protection–where natural processes are to be protected forever and left unchanged for future generations.
The Wilderness Act ensured that there would always be areas of undeveloped public lands set aside to protect watersheds, diverse ecosystems, habitats, and biodiversity, in addition to the visitor centers, campgrounds, or other types of development for visitors’ use and enjoyment located at many national parks.
“In traditional Native Hawaiian context, there is no division between nature and culture,” said Superintendent Natalie Gates in an Aug. 30 news release. “The concept of Wilderness as a place that must remain unspoiled is consistent with Native Hawaiian reverence for the aina.”
More than 80 percent of Haleakala is Wilderness and provides critical habitat for endangered species like the Kiwikiu (Maui parrotbill), a species of sandalwood, and six species of geranium that are found only in the park. “Unlike the Nene or Silversword, which can be observed near developed areas of the park, some of these rare species are hard to see,” Gates said. “All of these species are important nonetheless and depend on the Wilderness of Haleakala for survival.”
Today, more than 106 million acres of federal lands are Wilderness; 44 million acres are in national parks. One champion of the Wilderness Act was Laurance Rockefeller, who was instrumental in local efforts to preserve the Kipahulu District as part of Haleakala National Park.
For more information about Haleakala National Park, go to Nps.gov/hale.
Photo: Wikimedia Commons