Sidney was a Teen Leader this summer with KWP. Through this summer internship, she experienced the rigors of conservation field work, and was also exposed to science research, and worked with younger students as a leader with Waimea Middle Schoolʻs STEM Instead summer program.
For my first days with the Kohala Watershed Partnership this summer, we drove to the Koaiʻa Corridor to plant baby ‘ōhiʻa trees. I remember driving up the road looking out the window amazed at the size and amount of the trees that had already been planted. The last time I had visited the planting corridor was over a year ago on one of the volunteer days. I didn’t remember the trees being so large and so abundant. I hoped that the trees I had previously planted were alive and large like the ones we were driving by. For the first time I realized that maybe it would be possible to recreate a forest. Not just out-plantings of native trees, but an actual native Hawaiian forest.
When we arrived, we got our shovels, filled a bucket with saplings, and headed out. As I grabbed the young ʻōhiʻa, I was struck by their beauty. The leaves were red and green and they were shiny and healthy looking. Immediately I wanted every one of the saplings to survive. I realized just how special and beautiful these native Hawaiian plants were.
We walked into the planting area and began. It was hard work. You had to get each of the saplings planted beneath the roots of the grass, which is difficult because there are at least six inches of grass roots that you must dig through. Despite the difficulty in planting even one sapling, the job never seemed tedious. With each sapling planted, I felt joy knowing that these trees would outlive me and contribute to restoring the land to its previous splendor.
As we planted I talked and got to know some of the crew members and interns. Their stories of traveling to the Northwestern Hawaiian islands, or discovering a passion in mycology, or traveling to college to get a degree in watershed science, made me realize just how committed these people were to the work we were doing. I hope that one day I can find a similar passion and make a profession out of it. I know now how special Kohala and the people restoring it are, and am happy just to have spent a few weeks getting to learn from them.
It’s hard to believe…
Looking above the pastures of Waimea, Eucalyptus plantations of Honoka’a, and Mac Nut Orchards of Kapa’au, it’s hard to believe a native rainforest exists atop Kohala Mountain.
My internship with Kohala Watershed Partnership (KWP) has made me a believer.
The land above Kawaihae is regenerating where it is protected by fences. The (nearly) pristine forests on Kohala Mountain will hopefully remain with protection from fences and removal of invasive species.
My internship with KWP has shown me both the fragility and the resilience of the many environments of Kohala. Explore these areas as I have, and I doubt it will take you long to become a believer, too. I feel privileged to work in these amazing places: protecting what is, and encouraging the resurgence of what was.
Our interns this summer were incredible. Not only did they work hard, but they also were visibly brimming with wonder and curiosity about the places and projects they experienced. They also demonstrated an uncanny ability to reflect on the big picture. We have asked each of them to send us a photo and a bit of writing about their summer.
This is #1 in the series, written by KaMele Sanchez.
This picture was taken during a fence check around Pu`u Pili located in Kahua Ranch on Kohala Mountain. You cannot tell from the photo, but these beautiful native ‘olapa trees are surrounded, and are being enclosed by, the invasive Himalayan ginger. This is the side of the pu`u that the Kohala Watershed Partnership has not reached yet with ginger control. In the areas they have controlled you can see a wealth of native plants growing in place of the highly destructive ginger plant.
There is fear, hope, and determination written all over this snapshot of the forest. Fear that one day the entire pu`u will be nothing but ginger, hope that one day the entire pu`u will be plentiful with native Hawaiian vegetation, and determination to make the latter suggestion reality. As an intern with KWP there are a great many things that I have gained, but probably the most critical to me was this ideology that there are wars to be fought for the island that I love. While at times the battles may seem unpromising and forlorn, they can be won and they are worth it.
KaMele is a recent graduate from Honoka’a High School, and is on her way in a week to start her freshman year at Colorado State University, planning to major in ecosystems and watershed science. She began working with KWP as a community volunteer in 11th grade, then took on a position as a KWP Teen Leader in 2014. This summer, she was hired as one of our summer interns.
My child absolutely loved Nature Camp. It provided her the opportunity to explore, get dirty, and have fun. When asked what her favorite thing is, her reply, out of ALL the things in the world, was “Nature Camp.”
We have heard similar things from many, many parents over the years. Take equal doses of outdoor play, exploration, learning about natural science, and genuine caring within a family atmosphere, and you have the perfect formula for the magic called Waimea Nature Camp.
Waimea Nature Camp is for kids who like to learn about nature, climb trees, wade in streams, sing silly songs, create crafts, and collect tadpoles. We will explore our forests and streams, and learn about watersheds: the connections between the sky, the land and the sea. As always, a big part of nature camp is simply being kids, getting dirty, and playing together!
Philosophy Waimea Nature Camp is rooted in values of respect for the earth and environment, service to the community, striving to understand nature and find peace, and equality between people.
Enrollment Students entering grades 2-8 are encouraged to apply for the 20 positions in Nature Camp each week. Applicants must be outdoor enthusiasts, willing to get wet and/or dirty, and to respect life in its many forms. Camp fee is $150 per week, with generous scholarships available for all qualified students, and includes cost of transportation for field trips, snacks, and supplies.
Location “Home base” for Waimea Nature Camp is The Kohala Center, located in the historic Lindsey House in central Waimea. Every day, campers will be traveling on field trips to exciting natural locations . . to the streams, to the forests, to the mountains.
To Bring Campers will bring a sack lunch and water every day, and will be provided with a healthy snack. Campers need to wear clothes and closed-toe shoes that can get very wet and dirty. Candy, soda, junk food, toys, fancy clothes or jewelry, and electronics are not permitted.
Schedule Drop off between 8:00- 9 am; pick up at 3 pm.
Summer 2015 Sessions:
Session 1: July 6 – July 10
Session 2: July 13- July 17
Session 3: July 20 – July 24
Click on the link below to go to the online camp enrollment forms: https://adobeformscentral.com/?f=yvnmhl2JoKS4yKC0ECg01w
Applications are due by Friday, June 5.
Questions? Email Auntie Melora, Camp Director at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Can you imagine working here? Do you have what it takes? Building fences, doing biological surveys, and controlling weeds in one of the most unique and threatened ecosystems on the planet?Looking for people who can labor all day in extreme environmental conditions while maintaining a sense of humor, and work effectively with a team to protect and restore Kohala’s forested watershed.
Follow this link to The Kohala Center employment page for application forms, job description, and other details. http://kohalacenter.org/about/employment-opportunities
Application forms are due by Friday, April 24th. Late applications will not be considered, so don’t get left in the mud!
Email sincere questions to Melora, email@example.com. No phone calls, please.
This is one of those times when the picture says a thousand words. This is our northern boundary fence of the Pelekane Bay watershed restoration area. Within the 6600 acres inside the fence (on the left in the photo), we have reduced the population of feral goats to nearly zero. On the right, the wild goat population is uncontrolled. Now imagine that it is raining here. Which side of the fence is going to have the most erosion? Which downstream coral reef is going to be most affected by sedimentation?
This photo shows the fence line that separates the Kaneaʻa- Ponoholo Preserve on the left from the areas infested with feral cattle on the right. This one you can see clearly on satellite imagery like Google Earth.
And, of course, the sight we are so accustomed to seeing at the tops of the pastures on Kohala. Can you imagine what it would be like if the ranchers and foresters did not put up those fences 100 years ago? Would we have any intact native forest remaining?
A more subtle impact of fencing is in wet forest areas where fences have helped to exclude feral pigs from native forest. Only after a fence has been in place for awhile can you realize what has been missing from the picture. After pigs have been removed, the forest heals from the ground up. Ferns and mosses recover on the forest floor, baby trees start to sprout (like the young ʻoha wai in the photo), and there is less bare ground. Some species that were not present in areas with feral pigs will once again start to grow, like the hōʻi‘o ferns you see here.
Feral animals are here to stay in Hawai‘i, and some of them provide food and sport for many local residents. By building fences, the partners and staff of KWP have the opportunity to protect natural resources whose survival is not compatible with these feral animals, but fences also represent a huge financial investment, and a long-term commitment to control of feral animals, maintenance of the fences, and management of the ecosystems within them.
Photos by KWP staff and interns, of sites on Kohala Mountain.
It started with the very first KWP volunteer day. A bunch of community supporters showed up and planted trees in what was going to be a fenced restoration area at the Koai’a Corridor. Just a plan at that time, but that didn’t stop our optimism.
By this time, we had built our volunteer group from a couple dozen people to hundreds who had donated their time and energy and enthusiasm to the work of KWP. Starbucks started to join us on these days, too. The fence had been built for a couple years, but you can’t see the plants yet peeking above the grass.
On the Earth Day volunteer planting, we were so excited to see the first signs of the native plants emerging from the grass. Our native plants and our community volunteer program are both thriving, and a forest is indeed growing here!
What will the photo look like for Earth Day 2014? Will you be there? Be part of the solution, and sign up to help us plant another 1000 trees in celebration!
One is the loneliest number that you’ll ever do.
Before the arrival of humans to the Hawaiian island a couple thousand years ago, birds ruled. Birds grazed the soft plants on the forest floor, flitted from flower to flower sipping nectar, dabbled in mountain streams, and cracked open the tough seeds of native plants. There were also predators: hawks, owls and eagles that preyed upon these other birds.
Today, less than half of Hawaiian species still exist, and populations of the remaining birds are not stable: they are threatened by habitat loss, climate change, introduced species, and disease.
On Kohala, we are left with one species of hawk, one species of duck, and one species of goose: ʻio, koloa maoli, and nēnē, and four honeycreepers: ʻapapane, ʻelepaio, ʻiʻiwi, and ʻamakihi. And that is it. Great for ease of remembering, but lousy for celebrating the amazing diversity of native Hawaiian bird species.
Good news abounds, however!
KWP recently received a grant to support protection of koloa maoli populations in windwards streams, where the birds are believed to be the most pure genetically (introduced mallard ducks have polluted their gene pool).
Hawaii State DLNR has recently relocated hundreds of nēnē from Kauai to the Big Island, doubling the population in just a few short years.
And ʻio, our Hawaiian hawk, has just been considered for de-listing from the Endangered Species List because its populations are considered stable.
In memory of the Hawaiian species that we will never have a chance to see:
ʻUla-ai-Hawane was a beautiful bird with dramatic, red, grey, black and white coloring , found in the forests of Kohala Mountain. Its main diet was the seeds of the native loulu palms, and as those plants became less and less common, it because extinct. Last seen on Kohala Mountain in the last 1800ʻs.
L-R: Lisa Ferentinos (State DOFAW Watershed Partnerships Program), Cheyenne Perry (Mauna Kea Watershed Alliance), Yumi Miyata (Waianae Mountains Watershed Partnership), Ed Misaki (East Moloka’i Watershed Partnership), Melora Purell (Kohala Watershed Partnership), Colleen Cole (Three Mountain Alliance), Jordan Jokiel (Leeward Haleakala Watershed Restoration Partnership), Chris Brosius (West Maui Mountains Watershed Partnership)
Seven of the ten watershed partnership coordinators got together on Moloka’i this past week, to connect our islands through sharing and planning for the future. The Hawai’i Association of Watershed Partnerships (HAWP) is a voluntary association of statewide watershed partnerships, whose mission is to support the partnerships through advocacy, training, and statewide planning.
What’s ahead for HAWP? Look for a workshop on O’ahu in Fall 2014, focused on emerging technologies for visualization of the natural world. Stay tuned for more information to come. . .
On Moloka’i, we learned about
• the efforts to control feral goats — thousands removed from the south slopes, and real healing taking place on those watersheds;
• community-based restoration of ancient fish ponds;
• 30,000 deer and 7,000 people on Moloka’i: the impacts of that many animals to the island, and (how yummy they taste, too);
• new fencing projects on the south slope to isolate the high-elevation forested ridges from the impacts of feral animals (see photo below).
Without at least some rain in any given day, or at least a cloud or two on the horizon, I feel overwhelmed by the information of sunlight and yearn for the vital, muffling gift of falling water.”
― Douglas Coupland, Life After God
It is so exciting to get rain on leeward Kohala Mountain! We don’t have our exact counts, but something like 4 inches fell in the past month, and we’ve had flowing water in Waiakamali Stream! Yes, this is the stream that many of you have seen, but few have experienced as flowing water. So, I went up to the Koai’a Sanctuary with my camera to show you that indeed, water does run there after it rains!
And with the rain, comes new life! The mamane trees are blooming. . .
My dog Robin offered to be a scale model to show the incredible growth of our a’ali’i keiki. My, how you’ve grown!
And there were abundant seeds on the soil, ready to sprout with this lovely rain. Here are some mamane seeds just waiting to sprout (or be collected for our reforestation project)!
Come join us this Monday, January 20th for a volunteer work day in the Koai’a Sanctuary. RSVP to Melora by Thursday, January 16th to firstname.lastname@example.org.