In an effort to provide a more peaceful experience for Haleakala National Park’s visitors (and to save money), the National Park Service is implementing a new wood locker system for backcountry cabin users. The new system is expected to reduce helicopter traffic, noise, and impacts to wildlife and visitors.
Beginning Nov. 1, each of the park’s three cabins will be equipped with 18 lockers and each locker will contain three logs. These logs will be stocked regularly by NPS rangers using mules.
The current system requires that large numbers of logs are flown in by helicopter, and log use by visitors is unregulated. In the past, two weeks’ worth of logs could be depleted in one day, leaving no logs for subsequent cabin users.
Haleakala’s new wood lockers will promote responsible use of firewood, ensure that all visitors have three logs per night, and will reduce noise pollution and wildlife disturbance in the crater, which is congressionally designated wilderness and world famous for being one of the quietest places on Earth.
In 2018, the NPS spent an estimated $139,700 to deliver logs to cabins. That system required 26 hours of helicopter sound, exhaust, and activity in the crater. Few, if any, other national parks provide wood burning stoves and logs to backcountry visitors.
The new locker system should reduce costs significantly, with savings reallocated to maintaining and improving backcountry visitor services, according to the NPS. Helicopter operations will still be required in the crater for emergency searches-and-rescues, as well as resource protection operations, but will likely be reduced by at least 50 percent.
Locker combinations will be assigned and issued by park staff (one locker combination per night) at the time of check-in for cabin permits at Headquarters Visitor Center (at 7,000 ft. elevation) in the summit district. Any visitors wanting to pack in more wood can purchase additional logs and fire starters at the gift store during check in.
People frequently ask what they can do to help us protect this special place,” said park Superintendent Natalie Gates. “By using our new log system and burning responsibly, they are helping us reduce helicopters over the crater. That’s mālama ‘āina.”
Photo courtesy of National Park Service