Mauna Kea’s high-elevation dry forest and the palila that live here are under constant threat from introduced animals, plants, insects, diseases, drought, and fire.
Watch this video of the 2010 fire in Palila Critical Habitat that damaged over 1,300 acres.
Fire is a major threat to Critical Habitat for the palila on Mauna Kea, Hawai‘i. The presence of large amounts of fine fuel from grasses, dry climate, and human ignition sources produces a significant risk of wildfire in this area year-round. Since 1971, at least 35 fires have occurred either within or in the vicinity of Palila Critical Habitat on Mauna Kea.
Causes of fire include lightning strikes, arson, vehicles igniting dry grass, military training, campfires, gorse burning, and cigaret smoking. The largest known burn of 3,039 acres in Palila Critical Habitat occurred in 1979 as a result of a vehicle igniting dry grass. More recently, an arsonist was responsible for a fire that burned 1,378 acres of Palila Critical Habitat in 2010.
Fire destroys large areas that take centuries to recover fully.