New Book on Alakai Wilderness

SUBHEAD: A review of Fernando Penalosa’s new book on Kauai’s Alakai Swamp. image above: Detail of cover photograph of The Alakai: Kauai’s Unique Wilderness by Fernando Penalosa By Linda Pascatore on 1 November 2009 - We recently received a copy of Fernando Penalosa’s wonderful new book, "The Alakai: Kauai’s Unique Wilderness". This is a fascinating and comprehensive book about the Alakai. The book covers the history, culture, geography, and native flora and fauna of this preserve. It also provides a practical guide for visitors to fully experience the Alakai Wilderness Preserve and Kokee State Park. According to Penalosa: "The Alakai Plateau, sometimes referred to by geologists as the Olokele Plateau, is one of the most spectacular places on earth. Situated on northwestern Kauai, high up in the clouds, it is like no other place in the world, featuring an incredibly beautiful rain forest with some two dozen bogs, manifesting a great diversity of plants, insects, and birds, many found nowhere else. It has been called Kauai’s greatest biological treasure. It may very well be Kauai’s greatest treasure, period. Like all treasures, it needs protection, a major theme of this book." The author, Fernando Penalosa, has written several other nature books. He first visited Kauai’s Alakai Swamp in 1997, while on an Elderhostel trip. It was the beginning of a ten year love affair with this beautiful wilderness, and a desire to help to preserve it. image above: Detail of color plate of native birds from The Alakai: Kauai’s Unique Wilderness by Fernando Penalosa Over 40 pages of color illustrations document native flora and fauna, and include both historical and current maps of the area. There are also many unique historical black and white photographs included in the book. The History chapter of the book documents pre-contact Hawaiian uses of the highland resources. There are anecdotes involving the Hawaiin Queen Emma’s historic trip into the Alakai, which is reenacted each year at the Emalani i Alakai Festival. The book also covers many prominent western personalities and their deeds and accomplishments in Kokee and the Alaka, as well as military activity there during World War II and later. “Experiencing the Alakai” gives practical information about the location, conditions, and characteristics of the hiking trails. “Protecting the Alakai” relates the environmental history. The loss of native species and introduction of aliens is also included, as well as conservation and preservation efforts. Penalosa devotes separate chapters to Native Flora, Introduced Flora, Birds, and Other Fauna. “The Alakai in Song and Story” is dedicated to the legends, stories and cultural referents to the spiritual beauty of the area. The following is an excerpt from “A Kilohana O Kalani, a chant honoring Queen Emma”: Difficult was the ascent Up Kukalaakamanu The queen rested Among the lehue maka noe Then wondrous lehua made into leis Interwoven with pa iniu The birds scattered about To gather mokihana berrires To make a lei for the lady Emalani is her name. The book is 205 pages. The table of contents lists: 1) Introduction 2) History 3) Native Flora 4) Introduced Flora 5) Birds 6) Other Fauna 7) Protecting the Alaka`i 8) Experienceing the Alaka`i 9) The Alaka`i in Song & Story Notes Bibliography Index "The Alakai: Kauai’s Unique Wilderness" is a beautiful book and a valuable resource for Hawaii residents, Alakai visitors, and nature lovers. We highly recommend this book. The book is currently on sale at the Kauai Museum, the Kokee Natural History Museum, Talk Story Bookstore in Hanapepe and the National Tropical Botanical Garden gift shop at Lawai. It is distributed on Kauai by the Kokee Resource Conservation Program, an organization which provides Conservation Service Projects in Northwest Kauai, Hawaii. These are supervised service-learning projects to remove aggressive alien species from native Hawaiian forests. All proceeds of this book go to the Program. Kokee Resource Conservation Program PO Box 1108 Waimea, HI 96796 Phone: 808-335-0045 email: Distribution on other islands and on the Mainland will be handled by the author: Fernando PeƱalosa Quaking Aspen Books 3520 Coolheights Dr. Rancho Palos Verdes, CA 90275-6231 office & fax: (310) 377-8763 home phone: (310) 377-7603 web: email:

1 comment :

Anonymous said...

A bonus is color photographs of mosses, fungi and lichens, which are not available in any other book.

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