Secretary Haaland, Leaders Celebrate New U.S. Geological Survey / University of Hawai’i Facility to Support Volcano Monitoring & Ecosystem Restoration

Last edited 06/28/2023

Date: Wednesday, June 28, 2023 


Hilo, Hawai'i — Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland, Senator Brian Schatz and U.S. Geological Survey Director David Applegate joined federal, state, local and University of Hawai’i leaders and students today to celebrate the creation of a new facility that will monitor volcanoes and support conservation science. The facility, which will be located on the University of Hawai'i at Hilo campus, will house the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory and the USGS Pacific Island Ecosystems Research Center.

“Partnership and collaboration are at the heart of everything we do. I’m so excited about the collaborations that will be formed in this facility between USGS scientists and personnel, the brilliant faculty and the students who have already accomplished so much,” said Secretary Deb Haaland. “As we celebrate this facility today, we celebrate the enduring relationship it represents for the Department of the Interior and the community at large, as well as and the benefits this partnership will bring long after our time doing this important work is done.”

The USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory monitors and assesses hazards from active volcanoes and earthquakes in Hawai‘i, providing important science for emergency managers, scientists, and local communities. The observatory was previously located in Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park, near the active volcanoes of Kīlauea, Mauna Loa, Lōʽihi, and Hualālai. The observatory’s previous facility was irreparably damaged during the 2018 Kīlauea eruption.

The USGS Pacific Island Ecosystems Research Center conducts research to support management and conservation of biological resources in Hawaiʽi and other Pacific locations. This includes scientific studies of imperiled species, invasive species, and plant diseases such as Rapid ‘Ōhi‘a Death.

“We selected this location because of its unique qualities and partnership opportunities. One quality in particular that is critical to our future success is access to a very precious resource: students who can become our next-generation workforce, helping bring science to bear on some of the most challenging issues facing our nation and the planet,” said USGS Director Applegate.

“UH Hilo has a long and rewarding relationship with the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory and Pacific Island Ecosystems Research Center, and I am excited for the additional opportunities their presence on campus will have for research partnerships and student internships. Working side-by-side with professionals in the field is an invaluable complement to the education students receive at our university,” said Bonnie D. Irwin, Chancellor of the University of Hawai‘i – Hilo.

In her remarks, Secretary Haaland highlighted the commitment of nearly $16 million as part of President Biden’s Investing in America agenda to prevent the imminent extinction of Hawaiian Forest Birds. In December 2022, the Interior Department released a Strategy for Preventing the Extinction of Hawaiian Forest Birds. The Strategy provides a shared vision among the Department’s bureaus for a comprehensive approach to prevent the extinction of Hawaiian Forest Birds by applying a science-based approach, various conservation techniques, and Native Hawaiian biocultural knowledge and practices.

Construction of the facility is estimated to be completed late 2025.


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