Plant Your Own Koa Tree On Legacy Forest Tour

February 28, 2014, 10:43 AM HST (Updated February 28, 2014, 12:25 PM)
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A new eco-tour on the slopes of Mauna Kea allows guests to plant and dedicate their very own Koa Legacy Tree.

JTB Hawaii and Hawaiian Legacy Hardwoods, an organization committed to preserving Hawaii’s tropical hardwood species, are co-sponsoring the JTB Legacy Forest to commemorate the JTB Group’s centennial anniversary in 2012.

The new Hawaiian Legacy Tours allows guests to experience rare endemic koa trees, travel along the ancient Hawaiian “Umikoa Trail,” and perhaps see the endangered ‘Io (Hawaiian hawk) or Pueo (Hawaiian Owl) which reside on the lands.

Guest are invited to plant one of the special seedlings to honor an individual, commemorate an event, or serve as a family tree as part of an expert-led tour through the area’s rich culture and history, said a tour media release. With less than 10% of these of these Hawaiian forests still in existence, guests will have an opportunity to become part of Hawaii’s culture and history by the planting of these endemic trees, the release said.

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Located on the slopes of Mauna Kea, above historic Umikoa Village, 34 miles north of Hilo, the site was once a majestic koa forest and the personal property of King Kamehameha the Great. The land was cleared nearly a century ago to make room for farming and ranching. Some of the old growth koa trees remain, which HLH is utilizing as the seed source for all Legacy Trees.

“Our Hawaiian Legacy Tours will provide a unique off-road land adventure for visitors and locals alike – a rare opportunity to see koa trees in all stages, from seedlings to old-growth trees with beautiful sprawling branches that serve as the home to endangered wildlife and as a protective canopy for a variety of tropical forest plants,” a Legacy Tour spokesman said.

Tours begin with freshly baked scones in the visitor center, a 1920s refurbished ranch home, and features an off-road trip through historic koa forest on the slopes of Mauna Kea with views of the Pacific Ocean and stops at some of the oldest trees on the property.

Guests that plant Koa Legacy Trees get an embossed Certificate of Sponsorship with each guest’s name and their tree’s serial number, GPS coordinates, and access to an RFID remote tracking system to map the tree’s growth online for years to come.

Each adult guest chooses their own seedling; $20 from each tree is donated to the guest’s favorite charity and $1 is donated to the Hawaiian Islands Land Trust which works to conserve lands in Hawaii. Tours including one trip planting cost $180 for adults; $90 for children (5-18), according to the tour web site. Additional trees for planting on-site may be purchased for $60 each.

Reservations are required. Visit Hawaiian Legacy Hardwoods online or call 877-707-8733.

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