Near the geographic center of Kauaʻi is one of the wettest known places on earth, Mount Waiʻaleʻale. Despite this, wildfires can and do occur on the island. Steep slopes, rough terrain, difficult access, a large percentage of highly ignitable invasive grasses, and numerous threatened and endangered native species characterize the Kauaʻi landscape. 

Ignitions occur regularly in the inhabited areas of the island, mostly near the coasts, where the landscape is dominated by current and former agricultural lands as well as grass and brush.

Fires > 50 Acres 1999-2018, Kaua`i (Credit: UH Wildland Fire)

Kauaʻi is among the oldest high Hawaiian Islands and has been shaped by significant erosion, creating its dramatic landscape of valleys. Some of the steepest and least accessible areas include the North Shore to the West side, which also correspond strongly with the highest concentration of threatened and endangered species. This creates a challenging environment for reaching and containing fires when they occur, and presents a risk to the resident endangered species. >> READ MORE


After fires burn through an area of native vegetation in Hawaiʻi, the rebounding vegetation is generally dominated by fast growing non-native grasses and shrubs. Not only does this negatively impact biodiversity, but this can also contribute to erosion and the risk of landslides especially on the steep slopes of Kauaʻi. 


The biggest large fires have historically occurred on the lee slope of the eastern flank of Waimea valley. This presents a concerning fire risk for the drought-prone community of Kekaha. 

Kauaʻi is known for its high rainfall, but annual rainfall is not always a good indicator for risk. Particularly wet periods over a rainy season can, counterintuitively, significantly elevate hazard levels. Increased precipitation may lead to a surplus of vegetation growth, becoming potential fuel during subsequent drier periods, thereby elevating the risk of large wildfires. Given the changing wind and rainfall patterns arising from climate change, this may lead to increased risk for Kauaʻi.

Kauai Ignitions and Acres Burned (2012-2020)

Plans & Images

Pu`u Kapele, Kaua`i, Feb 2014 Sida Fallax Regeneration After Fire (Credit: JB Friday)

Recent Resources For Hawai‘i

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March 27, 2024

Summary results of 30 plants recommended by experts for planting in Hawai`i from sea level to 2,000 ft elevation (2023 survey results)

Survey Results: Species List of 30 Coastal Plants for Creating Green Breaks

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Species list of 30 plants recommended by experts for planting in Hawai`i from sea level to 2,000 ft elevation (2023 survey results)

Presentation: Overview of University of Hawai‘i Economic Research Organization fire projects

January 18, 2024

Dr. Kim Burnett, Assistant Director of the University of Hawai`i Economic Research Organization presents some of her economic analysis of Hawaiian dry forest restoration as well as wildfire-related work in the aftermath of the August 2023 Maui fires.