Koke‘e State Park work day is Saturday

The next in a monthly series of Koke‘e State Park community work days is set for Saturday, as Hui o Laka and state Department of Land and Natural Resources Division of State Parks officials invite volunteers to help weed and groom The Nature Trail, they said in a press release.

The trail is an 880-foot stroll that winds through the native forest between The Lodge at Koke‘e and Koke‘e Natural History Museum and back down near the historic stone Koke‘e pavilion.

Lunch will be provided for all participants who call Koke‘e Museum at 335-9975 to register for the workday.

“There’s something for everyone to do,” said Hui o Laka Executive Director Marsha Erickson, “from chain-sawers to weed-whackers to those who want to gentle garden and hand weed in the lush fern beds along the trail.” Erickson regularly brings her own grandchildren to forest workdays, and says it’s a great way to spend a day in Kaua‘i’s favorite mountain park with family.

Though Hui o Laka volunteers have been maintaining and developing Koke‘e State Park’s only self-guided, interpretive walk for almost four decades, it wasn’t until late 2003 that the group members began to imagine they could remove “every weed” from the much-used trail right at the edge of Kanaloahuluhulu Meadow.

“Every weed” included a well-established stand of Florida prickly blackberry over a large portion of the steep slope on the meadow side of the trail.

Armed with a small grant to Hui o Laka’s Koke‘e Resources Conservation Program from Hawaii Tourism Authority officials for volunteer support and supervision, soldiers in the “war on weeds” at The Nature Trail began their work.

In early March of 2004, some eight stalwart volunteers armed with weed whackers attacked a veritable wall of blackberry bushes in “Round One” of the ambitious project.

According to Erickson, it was the “assault stage” on this daunting weed.

Since 2004, work at The Nature Trail has taken on a hand-gardening and landscaping imperative.

While almost all major weeds have been removed, there are still some honeysuckle vines as well as vassey grass and other ground weeds that needed to be removed by hand.

In addition, volunteers will learn Hui o Laka’s low-tech “chicken-barrier” strategy around precious fern beds and new plants.

Volunteers will continue to be central to the trail-improvement projects. Call Bud or Michelle at 335-9975 to get involved in this “people-for-the-parks” improvement adventure.

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