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Aerial Pictures of the Hawaiian Island of Kahoolawe

Narrative

When I travel between the various islands that compose Hawaii I usually take Mokulele Airlines because the small single prop planes fly low and close to the islands providing some great photo opportunities.  One Hawaiian island most people are only able to see from the air which is Kahoolawe:

Picture from Kahoolawe Island

In Hawaii Kahoolawe is a very unique island because it is large enough to sustain life, but is currently uninhabited.  This is because starting with World War II the island was used as a training area and bombing range by the US military.  It wasn’t until 1990 that the military quit using Kahoolawe as a training area.  In 1994 the US military handed over ownership of the island to the State of Hawaii.  Since taking over ownership of Kahoolawe the state only allows people on the island to conduct native Hawaiian cultural practices.  They also allow environmental groups on the island who have been working to restore Kahoolawe’s natural ecosystem:

Picture from Kahoolawe Island

Even before the US military took over the island few people lived on Kahoolawe anyway.  This is because of the lack of freshwater on the island caused by its relatively low maximum elevation of 1,483 feet and the rain shadow caused by the massive 10,023 foot Haleakala volcano over on nearby Maui:

Picture from Kahoolawe Island

During the 1800’s the island was actually used as a penal colony by the kingdom of Hawaii before the practice ended due to the amount of deaths caused by the lack of food and water.  The island would then be used for grazing wildlife which the effect of can still be seen today because the overgrazing caused the top soil to wash away leaving only red hardpan dirt over large areas of the island:

Picture from Kahoolawe Island

I am not sure what the environmental groups can do to repair the areas that were overgrazed, but there are still plenty of other green areas visible on Kahoolawe:

Picture from Kahoolawe Island

Particularly on the southwestern coastline there appears to plenty of green shrubs growing around long eroded valleys that stretch from the center of the island towards the ocean:

Picture from Kahoolawe Island

Conclusion

Hopefully over time Kahoolawe will be able to restore its environmental balance and become a place more people can one day visit.

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