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Pohakuloa

Nestled between Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa near the center of Hawaii Island is a beautiful place called Pohakuloa.

Pohakuloa is situated on the southern slopes of Mauna Kea at the 6,200-foot elevation. The climate is a dry desert-like volcanic terrain with cool temperatures. Vegetation varies from sparse grasslands and shrubs to open mamane forest.

Mamane trees are native and endemic to Hawaii. The honohono, native Hawaiian mint and the kio’ele shrub are unique to Hawaii and listed on the U.S. endangered species list. In fact, ten different native plant species are on the endangered list. The palila bird, a Hawaiian honeycreeper is critically endangered.

The area is also home to introduced pigs, goats, and various sheep. While partly the cause of native plants being endangered these feral animals provide food and sport to local hunters.

Nearby is the Mauna Kea State Recreation Area. The state park offers lodging, camping, picnicking, hiking and viewing scenery.

PTA, Pohakuloa Training Area and the Bradshaw Army Airfield is the U.S. Army’s largest training area in Hawai’i. Not without controversy, the military uses the area for live artillery training.

Pohakuloa holds an important part of ancient Hawaiian history. Just on the training grounds alone there are over 600 sacred historic sites containing Hawaiian artifacts. Preserved in an Army curation facility is a rare pair of woven ti-leaf footwear and a set of small stones that were heated in a fire, inserted into small birds, wrapped in ti leaves then packed away to cook.

While hiking in 1978 and seeing the beautiful area being
destroyed by training bombs Moses Kahumoku expressed his sadness with an instrumental composition he called Pohakuloa.

One of the most cherished of Hawaiian songs is the lyrical Pohakuloa recording by Gary Haleamau from his Hemolele album. Lyrics were written by Gary Haleamau and Keala Haleamau Lindsey.