No, we are not giving up eradicating red mangrove from our Pu‘ali/Niumalu project demonstration site just because our grant is running out at the end of this month. Yes, we will continue to make this site into a community learning center. Yes, Mālama Hulē‘ia will press on further to completely eradicate red mangrove from the entire Hulē‘ia River basin, including the Alekoko Fishpond.
The sidebar on this page is updated to show regular work weekends every third week for the rest of 2015, or until all the invasive mangrove is gone from the place and replaced by native plants. Come, join our effort, enjoy the company of other ‘aina warriors and have lunch. If you are interested in joining our menehune hui to work under the radar at other times, contact Buddy Keala or Steve Yee, as listed on the sidebar.
Mason Chock, MH Director and VP, Leadership Kauai President and County Council Member, is personally committed to seeing further development the Pu‘ali/Niumalu site. Here’s what he says:
While our mission is focused on the removal of mangrove, we understand that it will take the whole community to recognize the importance of the Huleia river as a living resource, and invest in it to see it thrive for future generations.
The Pu’ali pilot clearing site is a perfect location to serve as a community hub, attracting visitors as well as community groups to participate and learn of Malama Huleia’s effort. As Pu’ali stream is freed from mangrove, it will need continued attention and maintenance. Focus on the Pu’ali site will provide an avenue for continued community engagement providing access to school groups who will be able to help shape and contribute to the new park area in many ways including continued stewardship, water quality testing/studies, recreation such as fishing and crabbing, planting of native species, agricultural projects, erecting educational kiosks, and the identification and preservation of historic sites. In addition, the Pu’ali site will offer further partnership with the county and state harbors to support park beautification and revitalization of the area lending credibility to the ongoing mangrove removal effort occurring up stream in surrounding Alekoko fish pond.
It is Malama Huleia’s intent to continue the beautification of Pu’ali and utilize it as a a hands-on experiential learning site where the community can participate and be in touch with ongoing estuary revitalization efforts.
Kawaikini kumu and students pulling up new mangrove
Island School Student determining what lives in the Pu’ali
Island School student recording observations
Much of what Mason descibes for the site is actually already happening. Carl Berg, MH Director and Environmental Scientist, has been working with teachers and students at 4 local schools: Kaiwaikini Charter School, Island School, Chiefess Kamakahelei Middle School and Wilcox Elementary School. Part of his program is to have the students grow the native plants that we use in reclaiming the land cleared of mangrove. Another part is to lead the students on field trips into the Pu‘ali/Niumalu site to do the replanting, to maintain the area free from invasives and to learn about the ecology of the place. This great educational work will certainly continue into the future. It is a kind of learning of environmental science that also reinforces aloha ‘aina.
Mālama Hulē‘ia does not have to be directly involved in the continued development of the Pu‘ali/Niumalu site. We would welcome a partner organization willing to take primary responsibility for the site as we pursue our main mission up the river.
As for Mālama Hulē‘ia “turning the corner” and working upstream on the Hulē‘ia, watch for public announcements, emails and flyers about an upcoming community meeting, to be held on June 16, 2015. During this meeting we will present a draft of our strategic action plan for eradicating the mangrove that has overgrown the banks of the Hulē‘ia River and surrounded the Alekoko Fishpond. We will be asking for community input to the plan to ensure that it reflects not just our thoughts, but those of all stakeholders. Details of the meeting place and time will be forthcoming.