Friends of Hakalau Forest
National Wildlife Refuge
Fall 2019 Newsletter
Presidents' Perch Fall 2019

J.B. Friday
President, Friends of Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Refuge
In This Issue



Farewell to Cashell

Jessica Loeffler
 Kupu Intern

Hakalau and Pacific Friends in Homer Alaska

How to help the Friends

Up Coming Events

It always encourages me when I see someone at the hardware store or the supermarket in Hilo or in Kona wearing a Hakalau Forest t-shirt, as I know they have been contributing to the restoration of Maunakea. People from all walks of life have gone up to the mountain to plant and those who have done repeat trips over the years have been able to plant seedlings of ‘ōhia, ‘ākala, and ‘ōlapa under koa trees they helped establish years before.

The controversy about the construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope on the summit of Maunakea has been difficult for the Hawaii Island community. While many native Hawaiians feel that the telescopes intrude on and desecrate a sacred space, supporters of the construction point to the knowledge gained from the telescopes and the educational and economic benefits construction of a new telescope would bring. It is difficult to see a way forward that is not a win for one side and a loss for the other. In contrast, the reforestation work at the Refuge has been a unifying factor in the island community. If we think of Maunakea as including all the upper reaches of the mountain, including the pastures and forests, the reforestation of the Refuge has contributed to healing the land as well as bringing local communities together.

The staff and volunteers in the Refuge nursery have been busy growing seedlings this summer and there are an abundance of seedlings that need to be outplanted this fall. If you are interested in participating on a worktrip November 1st to 3rd, please contact the Friends at

Refuge Manager’s update – Fall 2019

Tom Cady
Big Island National Wildlife Refuge Complex Project Leader

Aloha Friends of Hakalau Refuge.

Well, it has been a very interesting summer to say the least. As I’m sure you are all aware, a protest to the proposed Thirty Meter Telescope construction began on July 15, and it has had a very noticeable impact on refuge operations since that time. As a result of the protest, staff had to travel to the refuge using Waimea to access Mana (Keanakolu) Road, which added about 2 hours to our drive – each way. We also had to cancel our volunteer program indefinitely, suspend guided bird viewing trips indefinitely, suspend educational trips indefinitely, and had to delay two large contracts on the refuge. I am happy to say, though, that since about mid-August, staff have been using the Mauna Kea Access Road again to get to the refuge. It is not ideal, as we have to pass through three checkpoints – protestors, DOCARE officers, and Sheriff/National Guard – just to get on Mana Road, but it is working out for us and saving a lot of time. We are also back on track with our contracts. We will try restarting the volunteer program the weekend of September 20, so it will be a good test to evaluate how continuing that program will go through the duration of the protest occupation. We will continue suspension of guided bird viewing trips, because the state law enforcement offices and the protest organizers have requested that no private individuals access the refuge at this time. Unfortunately, this ‘closure’ contributed to the cancellation of the Festival of Birds that was scheduled to take place in October.
On another somewhat sad note, we will be losing Cashell Villa, our wonderful and super productive Deputy Manager in just a few weeks. She has accepted the position of Refuge Manager at Humboldt Bay NWR in Northern Califiornia. Hakalau staff could not be more thrilled for her. Cashell will be missed, but she will be an awesome manager for Humboldt. Cashell and her family will be leaving Hilo in mid-October. Thank you, Cashell, for all the good things you did for Hakalau over the last nine years!!! We may have some detailees fill in for a bit as we contemplate filling behind Cashell.

Cashell Bids Hakalau Forest NWR Farewell!

Cashell Villa joined the Hakalau Forest NWR staff in May 2011 as a Wildlife Refuge Specialist (WRS). In January 2017, Cashell was promoted to Deputy Project Leader. In her capacity as a WRS and Deputy, she’s been fortunate to have worked on varying conservation projects with people from all walks of life. Cashell’s main job focused on day to day operations at the Refuge and office including fleet and infrastructure maintenance, invasive species control, habitat restoration, and contractual and budgetary processes.  
Her fondest memory of the Refuge is the first time she drove up to the Refuge. “I have a very clear memory of approaching the Refuge on Mana Road and the difference between the Refuge and the land adjacent to the Refuge was starkly obvious. On the Refuge side of the fence, it was lush with trees and vegetation and on the other side of the fence it was a pastureland full of gorse, rogue cattle and pigs, and invasive grasses. It had a huge impact on me and has followed me throughout my career here at Hakalau. I will always remember that first impression and how blown away I was by the fact that when first purchased the upper areas of the Refuge had looked much like the surrounding lands, full of gorse, cattle, pigs, and invasive grasses, but the hard work and dedication of the Refuge’s staff, volunteers, and partners had changed the landscape dramatically over the last 20-30 years. It was mind-blowing! These efforts had brought the forest and forest birds back to Hakalau”.  
"I feel honored and privileged to have been a part of the restoration team and I will miss working in the beautiful forest and with the people that continue to dedicate their energies to its restoration. It is a little bittersweet leaving to a new job, as I feel a very strong connection to the Refuge and the folks I have worked with over the last 8 and a half years. I will really miss walking down the fence lines hearing nothing but birdsong and forest noises; watching the afternoon fog roll in to obscure the trees while feeling the mist on my face; and after lunch taking a few minutes to lay in the grass and watch the frenzied activity of birds flitting through the trees. Any day on the Refuge is a good day, whether it’s a glorious blue bird day or drizzling. It didn’t matter as long as I’m out on the Refuge working with great people!" 
When asked about challenges she faced, Cashell mentions the 2018 year as being particularly challenging. “Jim retired at the end of 2017, so I became the Acting Project Leader in addition to doing my Deputy duties and we were already short-staffed. There was a government shutdown in early January and another at the end of year in December. Hurricane Lane dumped 42 inches of rain up at the Refuge washing out many of our access roads. It seemed like it was one thing after another. On top of professional challenges, my mom had a medical emergency in Spring 2018 and I became her caregiver. I was thankful when Tom Cady came in for a detail in the middle of 2018 and then came back as the Project Leader in late January 2019. It was definitely a relief to have someone like Tom step into that role to ease some of the pressure. I don’t know if I would have been able to make it through that year without the help and support of the Hakalau Forest staff, volunteers, and other FWS staff. I am grateful that so many folks were able to assist us during that year from details to a road crew coming out to help open our roads back up after the hurricane. We really pulled together as a team to get things accomplished.”
Prior to working in Hawai`i, Cashell worked as a Wildlife Biologist at Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska. As a wildlife biologist there, she worked on field projects including shorebird studies, fisheries surveys, Dall sheep surveys, and polar bear feeding ecology studies. Cashell was introduced to US Fish and Wildlife Service when she applied for an internship with the Service while attending University of Alaska Fairbanks. The Student Career Experience (SCEP) internship led Cashell to gain a wide range of experiences by assisting with biological research projects and wildlife monitoring programs on Tetlin, Selawik, and the Yukon Delta National Wildlife Refuges. 
Originally from California’s Central Coast, living and working in Alaska and Hawai`i have provided her with many unique experiences. She feels fortunate to have had the chance to explore so many beautiful regions of these states and work with so many talented people.
Cashell will join the Humboldt Bay National Wildlife Refuge team as the new Project Leader. Humboldt Bay NWR was established in 1971 to protect coastal sand dunes, forests, and wetlands that support over 316 species of birds, 40 species of mammals, and 100 species of fish and marine invertebrates. She heads out for her new adventures in mid-Oct. She wishes everyone a fond farewell and is encouraging her Hawai`i work ohana to visit the Humboldt area and come into the Humboldt Bay NWR’s visitor center and explore the trails.
Jessica Loeffler - Kupu Intern

 My name is Jessica Loeffler and I am serving with USFWS at Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Refuge. My interest in studying Hawaiian birds began when I had the opportunity to study at UHHilo for a semester through an exchange program while working on my bachelor's degree. I assisted in an acoustics lab, spending hours listening to and learning Hawaiian bird calls. After graduating with a Biology degree with an emphasis in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, I began my adventure moving from North Dakota to Hawaii. When I received an interview with wildlife biologist Steve Kendall, I knew something big was coming my way.
A Place of Many Perches

As the morning sun begins to glow
The cool breeze awakens the forest

The melodic sounds of many birds
Ring through the air

A song that carries bliss
A bliss that brightens the Earth

A song that brings peace
A peace you feel deep within

The mountain is not just a place to be
But rather a place to feel, to heal

A place to be still
A place to be free

As the bright colors soar ahead
The soft delightful ballad sings on

A song that leads you further
A that song that guides you home

It is a collector of existence
A place of many perches

Jessica Loeffler
My internship included the best of both worlds; I worked with Hawaiian flora and fauna every day. I mostly lead the Refuge’s nene restoration program which primarily includes monitoring birds/nests/broods and predator control. I participated in a variety of other biological projects including forest bird surveys, vegetation monitoring, bird banding, invasive species removal, and fence maintenance. I have aided in the conservation of endangered and common native plants including the seed propagation and out-planting. I also helped facilitate Teaching Change at the refuge which consisted of aiding 5-12th grade students learn the native plants and animals in the refuge along with out-planting native trees and shrubs every month. I was astonished how fast Hakalau became my home rather than a place of work. Every day was incredibly rewarding. I was engulfed with the energy of place, memorized by the sunrises and sunsets, and transformed by the life inside Hakalau Forest NWR.. 

I am excited to start another Americorps Kupu position with the Natural Area Reserve System that will begin in October. The position primarily focuses on Hawaiian bird conservation. The position will further my knowledge in Hawaiian flora and Fauna and expand my experience in endangered species management.
Hakalau and Pacific Friends Share and Bond in Alaska
Sixty spirited, engaged and knowledgeable Friends and Staff of National Wildlife Refuges in Hawaii, the Pacific, Alaska and Oregon gathered at the Alaska Maritime NWR’s marvelous modern and spacious visitor Center in Homer Alaska, for four days in Mid-September.

“Tanax Agliisada”, Taking Care of the Land”, was the by-word and title of this training workshop. Cathy Lowder and Ken and Patty Kupchak represented The Friends of Hakalau Forest NWR.

While workshops and speakers and coordinators from around the National Wildlife System, National Wildlife Refuge Association, Arctic Refuge Defense Campaign and Non-Profit facilitators regarding Boards and story telling (yes, story telling, because that is really how we communicate most effectively) were informative and engaging, the overriding value and experience of the conference was in the sharing at all levels for the entire four days. We exchanged our “stories”, tested new theories and developed synergies designed to further the NWS mission in general and our refuges in particular.

After visiting, as a group, part of the vast Alaska Maritime Refuge by sea and the equally vast Kenai Refuge by land with the refuge and complex managers actively participating, we each developed a list of action priorities to take back to our respective Friends groups. These were presented to and adopted by our Hakalau Forest Board on September 19, 2019. These have been reported back to the Region office as follows:
At September's Board meeting the Board of the Friends of Hakalau Forest NWR adopted the following four priorities:

1. We plan to conduct a scan of the type of Board that may address our main priorities and use the nominating process to work seamlessly toward those ends .

2. We will seek to convert the Friends to e-driven communications. As a start we added $2000 to our present $1,000 budget to pursue this goal.

3. Make a major effort to work hand in glove with our Refuge Staff to enable us to anticipate, offer assistance and eliminate surprises in both directions. (The number one challenge voiced by ALL Groups was the insufficiency of staffing across the entire system to preserve, let alone make available in meaningful ways to the greater public, our wonderful, unique resource.)

4. Develop and work with other Friends Groups to achieve economies of scale, share know how and cross sell.

We encourage your input, questions and suggestions, not only on the priorities, but also suggestions and /or volunteers for Friends assistance, Board or Committee participation.
Easy Ways to Help the Friends:
1.   Designate Friends of Hakalau Forest as your charity on Amazon Smile.

By using the  instead of, Amazon will donate 0.5% of your spending to the charity of your choice

2.  Become a member and/or donate directly to the Friends to support their activities.

Download a membership/donation form from the website and follow the directions.

3.   Donate to the Jack Jeffrey Conservation Education Fund.

The Jack Jeffrey Conservation Education Grant is awarded each year to a project which directly contributes to the conservation education of Big Island students and teachers focusing on native terrestrial species /ecosystems occurring at Hakalau Forest. Use the membership/donation form available on the website.

4.   Donate to the Endowment Fund.

The purpose of the Endowment Fund is to create a dependable source of funds to ensure the integrity of the Refuge in times of shifting Government priorities and to support Refuge Projects jointly determined by the Friends and the Refuge.

To donate, go to click on Endowment, scroll to How to donate. Or mail a check to Hawaii Community Foundation with the notation that it is for the Hakalau Forest Management Endowment entered on the notation line, and mail to Hawaii Community Foundation, 827 Fort St. Mall, Honolulu, HI 96813

5.    Buy some t-shirts as Christmas gifts.
T-Shirts are available in an assortment of colors
Black, Kelly Green, Gray, Sand, Light Blue, Royal Blue, Dark Green, and Maroon

Adult S,M,L,XL
Short sleeve $20
Long sleeve $25
Ladies cut $20

Youth S,M,L
Short sleeve $18

If mailed, add shipping.

To order:  send an email to:
Indicate size, style and color preferences  and
leave a phone number where you can be reached.  
Not as Easy, but More Rewarding Way to Help the Friends
Nominate yourself or a friend to serve on the Board of Directors of the Friends.

Submit nominations for the Friends of Hakalau Board of Directors to:
Ken Kupchak (,
Pat Richardson ( , or
JB Friday (

Deadline: 10/18/19
Up coming events
Service Trip November 1-3:  Three opening left...    

We will be working in the greenhouse, re-potting or out-planting, whatever needs to be done. This trip will start Friday morning and end Sunday afternoon, and we will be using the volunteer cabin. Food will be central commissary style, with food expenses shared. Transportation will be by USFWS vehicles. 
Please email us at for questions and to register. 
Annual Meeting at 60 Nowelo St.
January 25th, 2020 10:00 AM - new date and time

Short business meeting
Election of Board Members
Refuge update by Tom Cady
Guest speaker to be announced
Friends of Hakalau Forest, National Wildlife Refuge is a 501 (C)(3) organization and is recognized as a tax exempt non-profit organization by the Federal government and the State of Hawaii. We appreciate and thank you for your membership and your donations.

   J.B. Friday
Vice President
   Rob Shallenberger
   Patrick Hart
   Cathy Lowder

 Members at large
   Kenneth Kupchak
   Creighton Litton
   Eben Paxton
   Patricia Richardson
   George Robertson
   Don Romero
   Mike Scott   
   Lisa Hadway Spain