Kokee State Park cleanup marks 45th Earth Day

KOKEE — The mountains of Kokee are often viewed as one of Kauai’s floral treasures.

But Kokee State Park is facing difficulties as invasive weeds are chocking out some of the forest’s native and endemic plants.

“It’s a serious problem, even down below just driving along the highway you have guinea grass and albizia,” said Chris Faye, director of Hui O Laka, which is helping organize an Earth Day forest cleanup through the organization’s Kokua Kokee Program. “They’re so successful at surviving in the environment here.” 

Kauai residents will have the opportunity to clear out weeds on Saturday. Hui O Laka Kokua Kokee Program facilitator Brad Soria will also talk about forest gardening and show people how to use hand tools to prune weeds.

“It’s always good because everybody gets to come and malama, malama the aina,” Soria said. “It’s their opportunity to actually take care of what is theirs.”

Kokua Kokee has been doing the cleanups for 10 years. Hui O Laka is a nonprofit organization that operates Kokee Natural History Museum.

The 45th anniversary of Earth Day is Wednesday.

“If you enjoy being outside in nature, it’s not particularly hot at this time of year to take care of this kind of project,” Faye said. “You learn about the identity of plants from our coordinator and besides learning about them you have that nice sense of accomplishment.”

Individuals will be divided into teams to clear the Na Ala Hele nature trail, the Civilian Conservation Corps campgrounds and other trails.

“A small group of people can make a fairly big impact on a small area,” Faye said. 

Those interested should meet at the pavilion next to the Kokee museum at 8:30 a.m. and bring work gloves, long sleeve shirts, water and clippers and weed-whackers.

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