Back to nature

NIUMALU — Sara Bowen of Malama Hule‘ia spotted it first — a lone mangrove sapling taking root among the lush native plant vegetation at the Pu‘ali Stream Wetlands Restoration Friday.

“I’m not going to dive in that mud,” said Dr. Carl Berg of Malama Hule‘ia. “We’re going to have to kayak out and get it pulled.”

During a tour of the wetlands restoration project on the boardwalk, another problem popped up when mysterious seed pods were found snared by the grass leaves.

“We’re going to have to find out what these are,” Bowen said. “They probably washed in with the high tide.”

Malama Hule‘ia is hosting a celebration of the clearing of the invasive mangrove which once covered a large expanse of the area near the Niumalu pavilion.

“Come and see the successful demonstration project of the Pu‘ali Stream wetland at Niumalu Beach Park,” Bowen said. “The highly invasive red mangrove has been removed; the wetland is teeming with makaloa and other native plants, and native endangered birds frequent the area.”

The dedication and celebration will take place 10:30 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. Sunday with local history, hula, and food.

“People can get back to nature,” Berg said. “This is exciting to see how the regrowth of native plants has taken so well and there are so many hues of green. The ducks are returning, and there are the Hawaiian stilts who come to visit.”

He said there have been quite a few people who come to the area and utilize the boardwalks which have been set up so people can get closer looks at the native plants and its relationship with the wetlands.

“We have brought together community partners such as the Rotary Club of Kauai to paint the park pavilion, and Hale ‘Opio Kauai,” Bowen said. “This park beautification project is part of our vision to use this demonstration site as a place to honor and perpetuate the Hawaiian culture and community by developing an education and outreach program, and enhancing Niumalu Park to be an informative beautiful place for gathering and learning.”

Bowen said in addition to the mural which is installed prominently on the Niumalu pavilion, a historical photo mural of Nawiliwili Bay and Niumalu area will be dedicated.

The Art and Cultural Program, Ke Kahua O Ka Malama, of Hale ‘Opio recently created its fourth public art mural for installation at Niumalu Beach Park. The project involved more than 75 Kauai youth creating a five-foot mosaic depicting the traditional Hawaiian moon calendar and how it relates to fishing and farming.

“This was done to support the work being headed by Malama Hule‘ia,” said Kathleen Ho, supervising artist from Hale ‘Opio. “We gave the kids an overview of what needed to be done, and they did it. Miracles do happen because the colors we needed all fell into place in the ceramic tiles which were donated by the Habitat of Kauai Restore. The kids loved to smash the tiles with hammers and then piece them back together to showcase the vision. They are connected to this mural.”

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