Haleakala, renowned for its raw beauty and unique scenery, has been the home of Haleakala Ranch for 125 years. Incorporated into the Kingdom of Hawai'i in 1888 by King David Kalakaua, the ranch embodies a most compelling history.
Henry Perrine Baldwin, one of the ranch's original shareholders, and his sons, Harry A. and Samuel A. Baldwin, are credited with building the ranch into an enduring community. Through five generations, the descendants of Sam and Harry still own Haleakala Ranch. Along with generations of families who have lived and worked on the ranch, they continue as stewards of the land. The histories of the land and the families are forever entwined.
"This anniversary is an opportunity to reflect on our past accomplishments and successes, but it also reminds us of our responsibility to the next 125 years," said Don Young, president and chief executive officer of Haleakala Ranch Company since 2006.
Head of livestock operations for Haleakalā Ranch, Greg Friel is working at a cattle branding. Friel is dedicated to progressive land management and sustainable conservation focused on a multi-species and rotational grazing program.
Photo courtesy of Haleakalā Ranch
"While Maui has evolved, the enduring family values of Haleakala Ranch have remained the same," Young said.
"For 125 years, we have cared for the land so natural Upcountry vistas will be here for generations to come," Young said. "Our progressive, diversified ranching operations keep our lands productive even as we adapt to changing business conditions. We remain deeply committed to our community, a legacy passed down from our ancestors."
"The ranch comprises 29,000 acres rising from the southern shoreline to the beautiful heart of Upcountry Maui," said Young, whose expertise guides the management of the ranch.
"Love for the land is what it's all about," said J. Scott Meidell, vice president and general manager of Haleakala Ranch Company. Meidell came to Haleakala Ranch after 11 years at Pu'u Kukui Reserve, where he worked to protect wilderness areas on West Maui.
Meidell's passion is to preserve the ranch's vast beauty, open vistas and rich traditions.
"We continue to grow with the times by mirroring advancements in science, technology and the changing realities of present-day Maui," he said.
Meidell and Greg Friel, head of livestock operations, are dedicated to a holistic approach to ranching.
"The ranch is committed to Maui Cattle Company and its distribution of clean, island-raised beef," they said, noting their mission to supply the community with natural grass-fed beef.
The ranch's different terrain types, remote ecosystems and microclimates are vulnerable to damage by a wide-range of invasive, non-native plants and animals. To address these threats to the environment, Haleakala Ranch has developed a comprehensive invasive species land management plan.
"Through research and education, our focus is on multi-species and rotational grazing: horses, goats, sheep and cattle together," said Meidell. He explained that goats and sheep will graze on plants that are harmful to cattle and to the mountain landscape.
"Our approach has included chemical, mechanical and grazing strategies to manage noxious weeds such as gorse, a plant that has taken over 5,000 acres of land, and fireweed. We also have fencing and management programs to curb the damage caused by feral goats, pigs and deer," Meidell said.
As part of the ranch's commitment to stewardship, the Waikamoi Preserve became a reality in 1983. The ranch conveyed perpetual land management rights to the Nature Conservancy of Hawai'i to protect some of Maui's best remaining native forests.
"The 5,230-acre sanctuary is home to hundreds of species of plants, forest birds and invertebrates--many of which are considered endangered," said Meidell.
The ranch is a key partner in the East Maui Watershed Partnership, a regional collaboration of landowners and government agencies. This group manages and protects approximately 114,000 acres of windward forest habitat.
"This critical watershed is Hawai'i's largest single water source, producing 60 billion gallons per year," Meidell noted. "The ranch is also a partner in the Leeward Haleakala Restoration Partnership, which similarly protects over 43,000 acres of high elevation forest and shrub land."
Currently, Haleakala Ranch continues its wide range of conservation initiatives, including comprehensive watershed planning, game fencing, rare plant protection and native bird propagation facilities and others. Some of their partners and supporters include the state Department of Land and National Resources, Hawai'i Plant Extinction Protection Program, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Haleakala National Park and Natural Resource Conservation Service.
In an effort to diversify its business, the ranch serves as the home to a number of ecotourism activities, such as Skyline Eco-Adventures, Pony Express Tours, and Maui Lavender and Botanicals. Local producers that call the ranch home include Maui Floral Protea and Tropical Flower Farm, Maui Nui Farm and Farmers Market and Haleakala Distillers.
Several years ago, Maui author John Harrisson was commissioned by the ranch to write a book about all aspects of its history. This chronicle, "Haleakala Ranch: Celebrating 125th Anniversary," is due to be published in early 2014.
"Researching and writing the book has been a labor of love," said Harrisson, who collected an archive of source material and interviews for the volume. "This history is dedicated to the hard work of many individuals who have helped to maintain and preserve the land for future generations."
For those with a keen interest, a limited number of copies will be made available for purchase through the ranch. Copies will also be donated to Maui libraries.
For more information, visit the historical exhibit about Haleakala Ranch and its family at the Hui No'eau Visual Arts Center at 2841 Baldwin Ave. in Makawao. The yearlong exhibit opened in September to coincide with the Ranch's 125th anniversary of incorporation on Sept. 1, 1888. The exhibit is free to the public.
For more information, go to www.haleakalaranch.com or call (808) 572-1500.