Hawaii Conservation Blog - Kohala Watershed Partnership
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Waimea Nature Camp is back for Summer 2015!


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 coordinator@kohalawatershed.org.


Summer 2015 KWP field crew internships

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?Crew working.summer 2014Looking 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, coordinator@kohalawatershed.org. No phone calls, please.


The critical importance of FENCES – a photo essay

Pelekane fence 2014

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?

Kaneaa fenceline.Patricia

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.


An accidental photo record of reforestation at the Koai’a Corridor!

September 2007

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.


April 2011

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.


April 2013

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 duck, one goose, one hawk: island isolation + extinction = “depauperate avifauna”

io in flightNative Hawaiian hawk, ʻio, hovers over my head to get a closer look. This resident hawk always “buzzes” us at least once when we wander into its territory along Honokāne Nui valley on Kohala Mountain.

One is the loneliest number that you’ll ever do.

-Harry Nilsson

 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.



HAWPing to Moloka’i



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).



Abundant Rain & Flowing Water!

 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 CouplandLife 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!
Waiakamali Stream in Koaia Sanct

And with the rain, comes new life!  The mamane trees are blooming. . .

mamane blossom

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!

Robin demonstrates aalii growth

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)!

mamane seeds

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 coordinator@kohalawatershed.org.


Hawai’i Island Conservation Forum: 11/12/13

Pilina Graphic.001


Pilina, a Hawaiian word meaning “union, connection, joining, fitting,” describes the objective of this first-ever Hawaiʻi Island Conservation Forum. We are coming together to connect our places, our people, and our work.

This is an opportunity for us all to come together — resource managers, community supporters, field crews, policy makers, research scientists — to share the work being done across our island to care for our natural resources, from the mountains to the sea.

Our island has excellent examples of how relationships help us create stronger, more lasting programs. Our presenters will share who they are and where they work, and inspire us with the way they do their work: building the capacity of their communities, forging new partnerships between the public and private sectors, and innovating new models for enterprise within the context of conservation.

We hope this forum will serve as a next step forward toward creating an island-wide conservation hui. Please join us and be a part of growing something big on our island.

Hawai’i Island Conservation Forum
Kahilu Theater, Waimea
November 12, 2013

Schedule for the day
9:00-9:15 Registration & Coffee
9:15-11:45 Presentations by conservation groups
11:45-12:30 Lunch
12:30-1:00 Featured Speaker
1:00-2:00 Discussion Forum

Cost: $10 per person (includes lunch)
Please reserve your place by November 4, 2013.

 Click here to reserve your place.

The Kohala Watershed Partnership is a sponsored program of The Kohala Center.
The Kohala Center is an equal opportunity provider and employer.


Finding a natural balance: fireweed biocontrol on Kohala is supported by local ranchers

Fireweed biocontrol

KWP partners and staff gathered recently to welcome the newest residents in the pastures of Kohala:  a bunch of furry black caterpillars. These larvae of the Madagascan fireweed moth, Secusio extensa, are from the home range of a damaging invasive weed known locally as “fireweed.” This daisy relative has invaded pastures across the Big Island, and not only reduces edible forage for cattle, but is also toxic to livestock.

Three KWP ranching partners (Kahua Ranch, Ponoholo Ranch, and Parker Ranch) are working with the State Department of Agriculture to rear these insects in cages, hoping to raise a population in the millions to deal with the 850,000 acre infestation of fireweed on the Big Island.

The public often expresses to me great skepticism about the intentional importation of a new insect to our islands, and their concern is appreciated! In the past, there was little knowledge or understanding of the importance of controlling the spread of new weeds, new insects, or new animals to our islands, and some of our worst invaders were accidentally introduced.

The idea behind biocontrol is to find the “perfect” natural balance for an invasive species. This means sending explorers to places like Madagascar to learn about the natural predators, parasites and diseases that keep a species’ population under control in its home range. The core reason that a non-native species becomes invasive is that it moved to a new location where it had no natural controls on its population. So our goal is to find something like that natural balance here in its new home.

This is the case with this great little caterpillar. It has been undergoing tests for over a decade to make sure it won’t eat anything useful or native to Hawaii. In quarantine, it was offered all kinds of plants as food, and in every case, this little bug won’t touch anything but fireweed and a couple other weeds.

The greatest story I heard about this process is the descriptions of fireweed in its home range in Madagascar.  On that island, you can’t find fields yellow with fireweed like you do here, because the native insects keep its population to a couple yellow clumps in every field – which is the goal for Hawaii, too.

Read more here: http://westhawaiitoday.com/sections/news/local-news/moths-versus-fireweed-state-uses-biological-control-help-protect-pastures

Photo: KWP partners and staff observe the rearing cages for the fireweed biocontrol, a moth named Secusio extensa.


KWP seeks field crew leader. Apply before 3/25/13!

The Kohala Watershed Partnership (KWP) is seeking a new leader to work with the KWP crew, to perform the following types of field work: weed survey and control, ungulate-proof fence construction, native plant propagation, outplanting & irrigation, feral ungulate control, and erosion mitigation. In addition, the crew leader is responsible for planning and monitoring of our work using biological surveys, GPS, and GIS.

Minimum application requirements:

• Associate or Bachelor’s degree in biology, forestry, conservation, geography, or similar field.

• At least 3 years of field experience in Hawaii working with a conservation field crew.

• Training and experience using GIS to map and monitor field work.

• Proven leadership capability as a crew leader or similar position.

• Flexible time schedule, including back-country camping for five days at a time and some weekend work.

We are seeking a positive, communicative, goal-oriented individual who can successfully balance the management of people and projects.

Pay scale: $21.00 per hour plus benefits. This is a full-time, hourly, field position with The Kohala Center, a Hawaii Island-based non-profit organization that supports the work of KWP.

To apply: Send a resume summarizing education, work experience, and leadership capability, along with a cover letter that will help us to know you better. We will review resumes on Monday, March 25, and schedule interviews with our top candidates on Thursday, March 28.

Send resume and cover letter via email to KWP coordinator Melora Purell at coordinator@kohalawatershed.org or via regular mail to P.O. Box 437182, Kamuela, HI  96743

For more information about KWP and the work we do, please visit our website, kohalawatershed.org. If you have questions, please feel free to email Melora or call her at 333-0976.

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