Skyline Hawaiʻi – the United States’ first commercial zipline company– celebrated 20 years in operation on Dec. 16 by inviting staff and community partners to its original Haleakalā Ranch location.
They shared stories and got their hands dirty helping to plant the 20,000th native tree at the Pōhakuokalā Gulch Community Forest Restoration Project, part of the companyʻs Skyline Conservation Initiative, part of the companyʻs Skyline Conservation Initiative.
“It has been an incredible journey and a lot has changed since 2002,” said Danny Boren, Skyline’s co-founder and president. “When we opened it took, months before we sold our first tour, and in that first month of sales we only had six paying guests, people just didn’t know what zipline tours were.
“But now, 20 years later, there are over 20 zipline tours across Hawaiʻi and several hundred across the United States. Over the last two decades the road hasn’t always been easy, but I’m most proud of the fact that through it all we’ve maintained our focus on sustainability, and supporting local Hawaiʻi non-profit groups, no matter how our business was doing.”
Over the last two decades, Skyline has opened locations across Hawaiʻi and a location in Tennessee. The company also has consulted on many other zipline projects.
Skyline has hosted more than one million guests on its zipline tours since 2002. In 2018, Skyline was awarded a concession contract with Haleakalā National Park to operate bus and van tours into the park – creating a new land tour division of the company with the honor of sharing Haleakalā with guests daily.
Founded by father and son team Buck and Danny Boren, the Skyline business idea was sparked during a surf trip to Central America in 2001. On the trip, Buck and Danny experienced canopy tours in Costa Rica and decided to bring the idea home to Maui where Danny had grown up.
The business saw a slow start in December 2002, and in order to keep staff working Skyline started a native forest restoration program, fencing out cattle from a one-acre zone around a group of three ancient koa (Acacia koa) trees. After that, they began inviting local school and youth groups to plant native trees in the area.
Skyline expanded its conservation area to approximately four acres in 2004, planting a couple hundred trees per year until Joe Imhoff, a zipline guide at the time, took a deep interest in native forest restoration, and was able to begin ramping up the program.
By 2015, under Joeʻs leadership, the Skyline Conservation Initiative program was planting thousands of trees per year, and greatly expanding its reach.
Today, Skyline has protected a 46-acre area along the zipline location at Pōhakuokalā Gulch. The company has continued its invasive species eradication efforts and native tree plantings with the help of a dedicated in-house conservation team of six employees.
These efforts are all primarily funded through revenue from Skyline’s zipline and national park tours, in addition to significant federal, state and Maui County grants that fund native ecosystem restoration.
Skyline also has developed innovative synergies between tourism and conservation by creating a new skyline conservation guide position, where workers guide zipline tours during tourism’s busy season and then transition into full-time conservation field workers in slower times.
“We are noticing the positive impact we can have on the landscape when the pieces of the puzzle come together,” said Imhoff, Skyline’s Conservation Program Manager. “Resources are being leveraged to restore an ancient ecosystem that has been lost, but not forgotten. This endemic forest deserves to occupy the land just as much as we do, and now the native honeycreeper forest birds have returned to Pōhakuokalā, which is the ultimate endorsement for the hard work that we do.
“This has become a place where people can witness a Hawaiian ecosystem being reborn.”
Protecting Hawaii’s environment has been a core part of Skyline’s mission since its first day in business. Over the last 20 years, Skyline has donated more than $1.8 million to non-profit groups – primarily environmental organizations on Maui, according to its press release.
Carbon neutral since 2006, Skyline was the first zipline tour in the world to become a member of 1% For The Planet (a group that independently verifies all of Skyline’s donations) and is the only land tour operator in Hawaiʻi to achieve Certified B-Corp status.
Skylineʻs staff-led beach clean-ups also have removed over 10,000 pounds of trash and marine debris from Maui’s coastlines; and the company’s Kamaʻāina Month food drive each September has brought in more than 77,000 pounds of food for the Maui and Kauaʻi food banks since the program began.
Skyline remains committed to being a sustainable business leader in Hawaiʻi, and plans to expand its support for Hawaiʻi’s environment and community even further over the next 20 years.
“Haleakalā Ranch Company congratulates Skyline EcoAdventures on 20 years of successful operations,” said Scott Meidell, President and CEO. “The Ranch is proud to support Skyline in its commitment to community service, ecological awareness and the provision of top-line activities that inspire and educate people about our unique culture and environment.
“Skyline has truly distinguished itself as an organization that understands and is motivated by a core sense of kuleana – and our community has been enriched in so many ways through its efforts.”
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