Protecting Kauai’s forests

  • Contributed photo

    Volunteers with the Kokee Resource Conservation Program embark on a weed-eradication mission in Kokee State Park.

KOKEE — From endemic plants to invasive species, watershed restoration to endangered forest bird conservation, the Kokee Resource Conservation Program connects people with Kauai’s forests.

A volunteer-powered organization, nearly anyone can find a way to get involved with KRCP. Most likely that means putting hands in the dirt, as the main way KRCP works toward conservation is by pulling weeds.

“We average 1,500 volunteers each year, and they come from Kauai or within Hawaii state,” said KRCP’s Cherith Andrade. “The volunteers come from the continent and internationally. It’s a good mix, and there’s good sharing opportunity for both sides.”

Since its founding in 1998, more than 31,970 volunteers have worked with the organization, sinking 173,056 hours of labor into the removal of more than 12.4 million invasive weeds in the 12,000 acres of Kauai forest.

More than 100 conservation interns have passed through the KRCP programs as well.

And on Sunday, KRCP will be celebrating successes and gearing up for another year of invasive-species control at their annual Hoomaluo fundraiser from 5 to 9 p.m. at the Kekaha Harbor House.

There will be a pupu-style dinner, live entertainment, door prizes and a silent auction.

“Every year the owner of the Harbor House donates it for a location,” Andrade said. “It’s a perfect setting, laid back and casual with a huge lawn, beautiful sunset, and it rarely rains.”

The Hoomaluo fundraiser will boast entertainment by Cruz Control and hula by Halau Ka Lei Mokihana o Leina‘ala.

It will also be an opportunity to get up to speed on KRCP’s actions, and 2018’s successes in Kokee State Park.

Anecdotally, Andrade said those stationed in Kokee have seen an uptick in visitors and hikers since April flooding closed hiking trails in north Kauai. With the arrival of more people, cars are starting to pile up at lookouts and volunteers are showing up to work with the organization daily.

Their access to visitors and avid hikers helps spread information about rapid ohia death as well, the fungus which made its appearance on Kauai in 2018.

“Our field technicians went and checked out the (recently held ROD) biosanitation classes since we’re up here and work with a lot of volunteers,” Andrade said. “We work with tourists and locals on the island to keep us all mindful of what we bring in and out of Kokee.”

Tickets are $25 in advance and $30 at the door. Children 10 and younger are free. This is a family friendly event. Tickets can be purchased online at www.krcp.org, in Lihue at Aloha Aina Juice Cafe, and in Hanapepe at MCS Grill. Aloha Aina and MCS Grill will accept cash only. All proceeds raised will support volunteer and intern programs.

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Jessica Else, environment reporter, can be reached at 245-0452 or jelse@thegardenisland.com.

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