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Explore the East Maui Watershed

East Maui Watershed


The East Maui Watershed is found on the windward slopes of Haleakala crater. No, the watershed isn't exactly what the mind conjures - a wooden shack containing the island's water supply - and yet metaphorically speaking it could be considered as such. Scientist geographer John Wesley Powell put it best when describing the nature of a watershed: "That area of land, a bounded hydrologic system, within which all living things are inextricably linked by their common water course and where, as humans settled, simple logic demanded that they become part of a community." Yep, it couldn't have been said better and on Maui it all reigns even truer. The East Maui Watershed encompasses approximately 114,000 acres, producing an average of 60 billion gallons of water per year which serve as the sole supply to the island’s agricultural industry, residents and farmers alike. In addition to it's importance to the human population, The East Maui Watershed is also home to a diverse collection of indigenous (and often endangered) plants and wildlife which all depend upon the watershed to not only to sustain their existence, but to grow and repopulate. In a grouping of islands with more endangered species than anywhere else in the world, protection of the East Maui Watershed is not just a priority for the people of Hawaii, but for all of the citizens of the world.

East Maui Watershed - courtesy of Eric A. VanderWerf / Alliance for Zero Extinction

So aside from the obvious global interconnectedness, what does the East Maui Watershed have to do with your trip to Maui? Well, that too should be obvious. While this article isn't written to announce a volunteer eco-tourism work program, it is a call to action for anyone visiting Maui to consider exploration of the East Maui Watershed, and yes, to get involved in some manner. If you are traveling in a group (educators, organizations or similar) then the EMWP offers interpretive hikes into The Nature Conservancy’s Waikamoi Preserve. These hikes include either the Bird Loop Trail or the Boardwalk Trail. Contact East Maui Watershed Partnership at or call (808)573-6999 to find out if your group qualifies for a guided hike. While visiting the EMWP you can contribute through their Adopt a Fence program, a financial donation, or buy an East Maui Watershed t-shirt to show friends and family back on the Mainland that you did a little bit more than sip Mai Tai's at the Grand Wailea.

The East Maui Watershed Partnership also hosts an artisitic celebration of Maui's native wildlife with an annual Art Show - Mālama Wao Akua. Mālama Wao Akua 2013 is an annual juried art exhibition at Viewpoints Gallery in Makawao that takes place between September 25th to October 23rd, 2013. Visit the Malama Wao Akua page.

For those visiting that want to explore the Nature Conservancy's Waikamoi Preserve without bringing along an organized entourage, Haleakala National Park offers the Waikamoi Cloud Forest Hike. Reservations for the hike need to be made up to one week in advance by calling 808 572-4459.

Waikamoi Cloud Forest Hike:
Location: Near Hosmer Grove - just inside park entrance
Time: Monday and Thursday at 8:45 a.m.; Reservations required.
Length: 3.5 hours, 3 miles, 500 ft elevation change
Rating: Moderately strenuous

East Maui Watershed

Marcus Maraih - Editor. Follow Marcus on Google