Welcome to Mālama Hulē‘ia

coverpage Mālama Hulē‘ia is a voluntary non-profit organization dedicated to improving key parts of the Nawiliwili Bay Watershed on Kaua‘i by eliminating an alien and highly invasive plant species. This invasive plant – red mangrove (Rhizophora mangle) – is attacking some of our most valuable assets in the watershed. Over the last 50 years, red mangrove has been changing native wildlife habitats in and along the Hulē‘ia River and destroying the Alekoko Fish Pond. We are working for a future when all of the red mangrove will be gone and all of our ‘ainakumuwai (watershed) can be made as productive as it once was.

This web site provides information about the Mālama Hulē‘ia organization, our history, motives, knowledge base, current projects and activities, and our vision for the future. If you agree with what we are doing, we welcome you to participate in and share our journey. Please visit our How to Help page. Mahalo.

Image | Posted on by

This Third Saturday

Work at the Pū‘ali Wetland will be focused on controlling the seashore paspalum (“opae grass”). We needed this non-native grass initially to help contain the sediment, but it has proven to be too invasive and will crowd out  the native plants if allowed to grow unchecked. We aim to control this grass without the use of herbicides by first cutting it down and then covering it with black plastic to prevent further photosynthesis.  This method has been used successfully elsewhere in Hawaii.

Volunteers are needed, especially those handy with a weed wacker. We have three gas powered machines, but if you have your own weed wacker, please bring it. We plan to work no more than 3 hours this Saturday and should be done before lunch. If you can kokua, please bring your own water and snacks, because we will not have that support this month.


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Feeling Good about the Pū‘ali Wetland

Let us call it that – the Pū‘ali Wetland. Our demonstration project site has decided that it will be a true Hawaiian tidal wetland – fed by the Pū‘ali Stream and tides of the Hulē‘ia estuary, and populated by native birds and plants. This may not be exactly what we thought we were creating when we started to clear red mangrove from the site. But it is clearly what the place has in mind now.

There is still a lot more work needed by the Pū‘ali Wetland, and we have a community workday coming up this Saturday, October 17. We will doing more cleanup and still more to eradicate invasive plants. Besides yanking mangrove seedlings, we will be ridding the place of alien grasses (California grass, guinea grass, seashore paspalum). We will also be transplanting and spreading the native ground cover and sedges that are growing so well there, especially the ‘ae’ae, makaloa, and another native flatsedge (puʻukaʻa?)

While eradicating mangrove called for hard work with a fair amount of aggression, the work called for at this time feels more nurturing. It feels good. This is because we can now clearly see how our efforts are helping native plants and animals to flurish in the wetland. Moreover, the malama we give is making the Pū‘ali Wetland into a place of real beauty.

Puali Wetland today 10-14-15

Puali Wetland today, 10-14-15

Below are some comparative and relatively recent scenes of and at the Pū‘ali Wetland, with overdue thanks:

Google Earth Jan 2014?

Google Earth, Jan 2014?

Mahalo County Planning Dept.

Kauai County Planning Dept., 6-25-15

Mahalo to all from Kauai Invasive Species Committee who helped on July 18, 2015.

Mahalo to all from Kauai Invasive Species Committee who helped on July 18, 2015.

Mahalo for the many days worked by the Menehune

Mahalo for the many days of creative and productive work by the Menehune

Mahalo to Jimmy Nakamura for cleaning up the slopes.

Mahalo to Jimmy Nakamura for cleaning up the slopes of the park on 9-19-15.

DLNR visits on Sept. 24, 2015. First Deputy Kekoa Kaluhiwa checks out the akulekule while Carl Berg explains the Puali Wetland to Chair Suzanne Case.

Mahalo to DLNR for their attention on 9- 24-15. First Deputy Kekoa Kaluhiwa checks out the akulekule while Carl Berg explains everything about the Pū‘ali Wetland to Chair Suzanne Case.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Saturday (9/19) is a Mālama Hulē‘ia Workday!

We’ve succeeded in removing the large mangrove trees!  Thank you to all of you that have contributed to that success!  There is still a lot of work to be done.  On Saturday we will focus on cleaning up the smaller woody debris and garbage.  Once the woody debris and garbage are cleared we will begin to focus on planting.  Please come join in the fun. We’ll start at 8:30am and lunch will be served at noon.  For any questions or to RSVP email malamahuleia@gmail.com.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

More than Almost Pau

Today we made great progress pulling mangrove bundles from the farthest end of the job site into the roll-off bin. Mark Hubbard devised a 3-stage method of pulling the mangrove first along one angle using a pulley, and then from the pulley location straight to the bin, and finally from in front of the bin into the bin. This efficient method allowed us to pack the bin in one day. So even though more mangrove piles remain in the field, we have to cancel the workday scheduled for tomorrow, 8/16. The next time Mark and his truck will be available is next Thursday, so we are hoping there are enough volunteers then to make that the final mangrove clearing day. [UPDATE: Due to timing of the tides, we decided to move the final mangrove clearing day back by one week to 8/27. Start time will be 7:00 AM to take advantage of the low tide.] If you can help Thursday 8/27 please let one of us know. (See right panel.)

The native water birds are still enjoying the place. Seen in the shallows today were a pair of Ae‘o (stilts), a flock of ‘Akekeke (ruddy turnstones), and two ‘Auku’u flying around. Here’s a picture of the stilts:



Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Almost Pau

In  the last month the Menehune have again worked their magic in removing almost all of the piles of cut up mangrove from our Niumalu/Pu‘ali site. Menehune Chief Mark directed the effort and put his truck to work pulling the sledges and bundles of mangrove roots and branches directly into the roll-off bin. (Watch video below.) Also helping with the Menehune effort were Carl, Odan, Steve, Frank, Luke, Mason, Shyla, Kamalani, Pepe, and others, including someone who left some planks for walking over the mud. Here are a video of the work in progress  and a picture of what remains.


Not much mangrove. Lots of open water.

With a good turnout on our regular work weekend, this Saturday and Sunday, August 15-16, we could be all pau with clearing the mangove at this site. So if you have not been in the field lately, come and join the Malama Hule‘ia gang with the final clearing. You will have the satisfaction of witnessing the transformation of a place once overgrown by invasive mangrove into an open wetland much more friendly to our native waterbirds. They are not waiting until we say we are pau. While working on the site, it is possible that you will see the Ae‘o (stilts) and ‘Akekeke (ruddy turnstones) who have recently found their way back to Niumalu. They join the other native birds previously sighted there. These birds won’t mind sharing the water and mud with you.



Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

HB-393 Signed Last Week

clipped hb393Last week Governor Ige signed HB393, a bill that facilitates the restoration, repair, maintenance, and operation of traditional Hawaiian fishponds. This is the result of a dedicated group of fishpond practitioners, government agencies and nonprofit organizations working together (since 2012) to streamline the permitting process for the restoration of traditional Hawaiian fishpond systems. Trisha Watson-Sproat, Owner of Honua Consulting, reported that the signing of this bill means that “seventeen (17) different federal and state authorizations traditional Hawaiian fishponds had to obtain in order to restore their ponds and distilled it down into a single streamlined application making it cheaper and easier for communities to restore and maintain their loko i‘a.”

However, our own fishpond expert and practitioner, Graydon “Buddy” Keala, Owner of Loko I’a Consulting and lead author of LOKO I‘A A Manual on Hawaiian Fishpond Restoration and Management, cautions that “the devil is in the detail” with this bill. He explains that while the intent of reducing costs and streamlining the permitting process was good, the end result is a more expensive and burdensome process. This is due to more intensive best management practices (BMPs) with the extra burden placed on the fishpond practitioner. He reports that there is a group of active practitioners looking to get the bill amended. This should be interesting to follow.

View the bill here:
Learn more about the process:
Fishpond Restoration Manual here:

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Signs of Revitalization

Eradicating invasive red mangrove is the first step in returning the Hulē‘ia watershed to the kind  of vitality it once supported. Having cleared the mangrove from our Niumalu-Pū‘ali demonstration project site, we continue to see new signs of the revitilization occuring there. Here are some recent scenes at the site:




Man fishing with throw net




Ae’Ae and Makaloa

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment