The smallest of the eight main islands of Hawai`i, Kaho`olawe is located seven miles southwest of Maui and has low precipitation due to its location in the rain shadow of Maui’s 10,023 foot high volcano-Haleakala.
From the beginning of World War II to 1990, Kaho`olawe was utilized as a live fire training ground for the military. In 1981, it was added to the National Register of Historic Places and some environmental restoration work began at that time.
In 1993, the Hawai`i State Legislature created the Kaho’olawe Island Reserve which includes the island and its surrounding waters in a two-mile radius. The Legislature also created the Kaho’olawe Island Reserve Commission (KIRC)
By State Law, Kaho`olawe and its waters can only be used for Native Hawaiian cultural, spiritual and subsistence purposes; fishing; environmental restoration; historic preservation; and education.
Restoration efforts are ongoing at Kaho`olawe; including a water catchment system that has been constructed at the island’s highest point, Pu’u Moa’ulanui. The strategic plan for Kaho`olawe can be seen here.
United States Geological Survey