Kahoolawe

From Academic Kids

Kaho‘olawe is the smallest of the 8 main volcanic islands in the Hawaiian Islands. It is located 7 miles (11.2 km) southwest of Maui and southeast of Lāna‘i and is 18 km (11 miles) long by 10 km (6 miles) across. Total area is 117 km² (45 mile²). The highest point is the crater of Lua Makika at the summit of Puu Moaulanui, which is 450 m (1,477 ft) above sea level. The island is relatively dry because the low elevation fails to generate much orographic precipitation from the northeastern trade winds and it is located in the rain shadow of Maui's 3055 m (10,023 ft) high Haleakalā. More than one quarter of the island has been eroded down to saprolitic hardpan.

Kaho‘olawe is part of Maui County. There are no permanent residents living on the island.

Contents

History

Sometime around 1000 CE, Kaho‘olawe was settled, and small, temporary fishing communities were established along the coast. Some inland areas were cultivated, and fine-grained basalt was quarried for stone tools. Originally a dry, mesic forest environment with intermittent streams, the land changed to an open savannah of grassland and trees as a result of vegetation clearance for firewood and agriculture. People built stone platforms for religious ceremonies, set rocks upright as shrines for successful fishing trips, and carved petroglyphs, or drawings, into the flat surfaces of rocks. These indicators of an earlier time can still be found on Kaho‘olawe.

While it is not known how many people inhabited the island, the lack of freshwater probably limited the population to a few hundred. As many as 100 or more people may have once lived at Hakioawa, the largest settlement located at the northeast end of the island facing Maui.

Violent wars among competing chiefs laid waste to the land and led to a decline in the population. During the War of Kamokuhi, Kalaniopu‘u, the ruler of the Island of Hawai‘i, raided and pillaged Kaho‘olawe in an unsuccessful attempt to take Maui from Kamalalawalu, the King of Maui. From 1778 to the early 1800s, observers on passing ships reported that the island was uninhabited and barren, destitute of both water and wood. After the arrival of missionaries from New England, the Hawaiian government of King Kamehameha III replaced the death penalty with exile, and Kaho‘olawe became a male penal colony sometime around 1830. Food and water were scarce, some prisoners reportedly starved, and some swam across the channel to Maui to find food. The law making the island a penal colony was repealed in 1853.

An 1857 survey of Kaho‘olawe reported about 50 residents, about 5,000 acres (20 km²) of land covered with shrubs, and a patch of sugar cane. Along the shore, tobacco, pineapple, gourds, pili (pee-lee) grass and scrub trees grew. Beginning in 1858,the Hawaiian government leased Kaho‘olawe to a sequence of ranching ventures. Some proved more successful than others, but the lack of freshwater was an unyielding enemy. Through the next 80 years, the landscape changed dramatically -- drought and uncontrolled overgrazing denuded much of the island, and strong trade winds blew away much of the topsoil leaving the red hard pan.

From 1910 to 1918 the Hawaiian Territorial government designated Kaho’olawe as a forest reserve in hopes of restoring the island through a revegetation and livestock removal program. The program failed and leases again became available. In 1918, the skilled Wyoming rancher Angus MacPhee with the help of Maui landowner Harry Baldwin leased the island for 21 years, intending to build a cattle ranch. By 1932, the ranching operation was enjoying moderate success. After heavy rains, native grasses and flowering plants would sprout, but drought seemed to always return. In 1941, MacPhee subleased part of the island to the Army. Later that year, because of continuing drought, MacPhee removed his cattle from the island.

On Dec. 8, 1941, after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the U.S. Army declared martial law throughout Hawaii and took control of Kaho’olawe. Soon, Kaho’olawe was being used as a place to train Americans headed to war across the Pacific. The use of Kaho’olawe as a training range was critical to the lives of many young Americans. The United States was executing a new type of war in the Pacific islands. Success depended on accurate, heavy gunfire from ships suppressing enemy positions as Marines and soldiers struggled to get ashore. Thousands of soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen prepared on Kaho’olawe for the brutal and costly assaults on islands such as the Gilberts, the Marianas and Iwo Jima.

Training on Kaho‘olawe continued after World War II. During the Korean War, carrier-based aircraft played a critical role in attacking enemy airfields, convoys and troop staging areas. Mock-ups of airfields, vehicles and other camps were constructed on Kaho‘olawe, and while pilots were undergoing readiness inspection at nearby Barbers Point Naval Air Station, they practiced spotting and hitting the mock-ups at Kaho‘olawe. Similar training took place through the Cold War and during Vietnam, as mock-ups of aircraft, radar installations, gun mounts and surface-to-air missile sites were placed across the island for pilots and others to use for training.

In 1976, a group of individuals calling themselves the Protect Kaho‘olawe Ohana (PKO) filed suit in federal court to stop the Navy’s use of Kaho‘olawe for military training, to require compliance with a number of new environmental laws and to ensure protection of cultural resources on the island. In 1977, the Federal District Court for the District of Hawaii allowed the Navy’s use of the island to continue, but the Court directed the Navy to prepare an environmental impact statement and complete an inventory of historic sites on the island. In 1980, the Navy and the Protect Kaho‘olawe Ohana entered into a Consent Decree which allowed continued military training on the island, monthly access to the island for the PKO, surface clearance of part of the island, soil conservation, goat eradication and an archeological survey.

On March 18, 1981, the entire island was added to the National Register of Historic Places. At that time, the Kaho`olawe Archaeological District was noted to contain 544 recorded archaeological or historic sites and over 2,000 individual features. As part of the soil conservation efforts, workers laid lines of explosive charges, detonating them to break the hardpan so that seedling trees could be planted. Used tires were taken to Kaho’olawe and placed in miles (km) of deep gullies to slow the washing of red soil from the barren uplands to the surrounding shores. Ordnance and scrap metal was picked up by hand and transported by large trucks to a collection site.

In 1990, President George H. W. Bush ordered an end to live-fire training on the island. The Department of Defense Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 1991 established the Kaho‘olawe Island Conveyance Commission to recommend terms and conditions for the conveyance of Kaho‘olawe by the United States government to the State of Hawaii.

Transfer of title and UXB cleanup

In 1993, Senator Daniel K. Inouye of Hawaii sponsored Title X of the Fiscal Year 1994 Department of Defense Appropriations Act, directing that the United States convey Kaho‘olawe and its surrounding waters to the State of Hawaii. Title X also established the objective of a “clearance or removal of unexploded ordnance” and environmental restoration of the island, to provide “meaningful safe use of the island for appropriate cultural, historical, archaeological, and educational purposes, as determined by the State of Hawaii.” In turn, the State created the Kaho‘olawe Island Reserve Commission to exercise policy and management oversight of the Kaho‘olawe Island Reserve. As directed by Title X and in accordance with a required Navy/ State of Hawaii Memorandum of Understanding, the Navy transferred title of Kaho`olawe to the State of Hawaii on May 9, 1994.

As required by Title X, the Navy retained access control to the island until clearance and environmental restoration activities were completed, or Nov. 11, 2003, whichever came first. The State agreed to prepare a Use Plan for Kaho’olawe and the Navy agreed to develop a Cleanup Plan based on that use plan and to implement that plan to the extent Congress provided funds for that purpose.

In July 1997, the Navy awarded a contract to the Parsons/UXB Joint Venture to clear ordnance from the island to the extent funds were provided by Congress. After the State and public review of the Navy cleanup plan, Parsons/UXB began their work on the island in November 1998.

The Navy attempted a cleanup of the unexploded ordnance from the island, although much still remains buried or resting on the land surface. Other items have washed down gullies and still others lie beneath the waters offshore. The turnover was officially made on November 11, 2003, but the cleanup was not completed. Although the U.S. Navy was given $400 million and 10 years to complete the task, work progressed much slower than anticipated. As of the time of turnover, access to Kaho‘olawe requires escort and careful attention within areas known to contain unexploded ordnance.

Kaho‘olawe Island Reserve

In 1993, the Hawai‘i State Legislature established the Kaho‘olawe Island Reserve, consisting of "the entire island and its surrounding ocean waters in a two mile (3 km) radius from the shore". By State Law, Kaho‘olawe and its waters can only be used for Native Hawaiian cultural, spiritual and subsistence purposes; fishing; environmental restoration; historic preservation; and education. Commercial uses are prohibited.

The Legislature also created the Kaho‘olawe Island Reserve Commission (KIRC) to manage the Reserve while it is held in trust for a future Native Hawaiian Sovereignty entity. The restoration of Kaho‘olawe will require a strategy to control erosion, re-establish vegetation, recharge the water table, and gradually replace alien plants with native species. Plans will include methods for damming gullies and reducing rainwater runoff. In some areas, non-native plants will temporarily stabilize soils before planting of permanent native species.

Reference

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Cities | Geography | History | Language | Landmarks
State capital: Honolulu
Principal towns: Hilo | Honolulu | Kahului | Kailua-Kona | Template:Unicode
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Counties: Template:Unicode | Honolulu | Kalawao | Template:Unicode | Maui


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