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Lehua restoration project lecture offered

The National Tropical Botanical Garden’s lecture series continues with a presentation on conservation and restoration efforts on the islet of Lehua by NTBG Assistant Director of Living Collections and Horticulture Mike DeMotta.

The lecture will be tomorrow at 6 p.m. in the Harrison Chandler Education Center at the NTBG building at 3530 Papalina Road, Kalaheo. Attendance is free.

Visible from Kaua‘i, Lehua is a 290-acre crescent-shaped islet 18 miles west of Kaua‘i and half a mile north of Ni‘ihau. The uninhabited islet is categorized as a tuff crater and recognized for its beauty and biological diversity, including one of the largest colonies of nesting seabirds in the main Hawaiian islands.

Since the spring of 2007, NTBG has been actively involved with the Offshore Island Restoration Committee’s efforts to help preserve and re-establish the island’s unique native Hawaiian plant and animal life.

NTBG biologists and conservation staff have established an experimental outplanting site which is home to approximately a dozen species of native grasses, sedges and plants like Hawaiian cotton (ma‘o), Pritchardia palms and Portulaca lutea (‘ihi).

The 22 native Hawaiian plant species that grow on Lehua today have been threatened by introduced mammals like rabbits and rats and struggle to survive in Lehua’s exceptionally arid climate. During the dry months, NTBG staff periodically transport fresh irrigation water to maintain the roughly 1-acre plant site.

DeMotta will present slides showing the flora and fauna of Lehua and discuss the importance of NTBG’s role in plant restoration as an integral part of the overall Lehua project.

For more information, contact Lea Taddonio, community outreach coordinator at 332-7324, Ext. 228 or e-mail outreach@ntbg.org

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