Maui News

Botanist Retires After 30 Year Career of at Haleakalā National Park on Maui

September 30, 2021, 3:26 PM HST
* Updated October 1, 5:42 AM
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Patti Welton. NPS Photo.

After three decades of speaking up for native plants, Botanist Patti Welton officially retired from the Integrated Resource Management Division in Haleakalā National Park on Sept. 24, 2021. Patti spent her National Park Service career inventorying and monitoring plant species, controlling invasive weeds, and restoring native ecosystems. 

One of Welton’s earliest and greatest accomplishments was restoring koa (Acacia koa) forest in Kaupō Gap, according to the National Park Service. From 1993 to 2000, Patti and her crew collected and propagated seeds from 15 plant species and planted more than 7,000 plants. 

The koa forest restoration project created a safe environment that allowed the natural seedbank to grow. In addition, it promoted the natural development of native ferns and sedges that carpet the landscape. The process of collecting endemic seeds, rearing native plants in the park’s greenhouse, and outplanting rare species continues today thanks to the foundational groundwork laid by Welton. 

Welton said working at Haleakalā National Park taught her “resilience and hope.”  To wrap up her career, Patti led a hike for park staff and passed down her knowledge of the species that call Haleakalā home. 

“I am always humbled to be working here,” Welton said, “and hope the people staying on continue to be stewards here. That they continue to learn and honor the history of the people, place, and culture.” 

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To see some of the rare and threatened species in the Haleakalā National Park’s Herbarium Collection visit: www.nps.gov/hale/learn/historyculture/threatened-and-endangered-plants.htm

  • Patti Welton admiring Lobelia gloria-montis along fenceline. NPS Photo
  • Patti Welton guiding a group of Haleakala Employees on a hike. NPS Photo by Chris Petruccelli
  • Patti Welton in Upper Kipahulu in 1993. NPS Photo
  • Superintendent Reeser swearing in new park botanist Patty Welton in 1996. NPS Photo
  • Patti Welton planting in East Kaupo Gap in 1995. NPS Photo

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