KILAUEA — In honor of Public Lands Day, the Kaua‘i National Wildlife Refuge Complex hosted a morning of invasive-species removal at Kahili Beach (Rock Quarry’s), where the Kilauea Stream meets the ocean.
The removal took place on the northwest side of the stream, an area that is part of the KNWR complex.
Invasive species are a threat to the local ecosystem.
“For example, (an) invasive type (of morning glory vine) has been detrimental for wedge-tailed shearwaters,” KNWR Visitor Services Manager Jennifer Waipa explained. “As (the shearwaters) either come in to feed their chicks or as the chicks are getting ready to flourish and fly off for the first time, their wings or their feet can get caught up in it.”
Invasive species also compete for resources with local plants, Waipa said.
Saturday’s event focused on the removal of Indian fleabane, which Waipa only recently noticed in the area. Because the plant is not well established, she hopes that volunteer efforts will help the refuge to keep control over the spread of this invasive plant and eventually native plants can take its place.
Volunteers helped install signs marking areas where motor-vehicle traffic is prohibited and informing recreators to keep their dogs on leashes.
“Dogs that are not on leash or in the immediate care of their owners can cause harm to and hurt seabirds that are ground-nesting birds. Not just the seabirds, but the nene as well,” said Waipa. Nene nesting season is between September and April.
Saturday’s event was small, with just five volunteers and two staff members from the refuge.
“There are times where we have to be mindful of the work areas that we’re going into, and the numbers that are going into those areas because of the ground-nesting birds,” said Waipa.
While there were no ground nesting birds directly in the area that was being weeded, red-tailed tropic nests are nearby.
The KNWR complex is gearing up to celebrate National Wildlife Refuge Week in October.
This year’s events will be a combination of virtual and in-person events. Wildlife Wednesday Virtual is a three-week lecture series that kicks off on Oct. 6, with a talk on solving the Hawaiian bird-extinction crisis.
On Oct. 9, free grab-and-go learning kits will be distributed at the Princeville Public Library and Kong Lung courtyard in Kilauea from 9 to 11 a.m., while supplies last. They will be available at Kaua‘i Ocean Discovery at Kukui Grove Center from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., and Déjà vu Surf Hawaii starting at 1 p.m.
On Oct. 16, entrance fees are waived at Kilauea Point NWR. Space is limited, advanced reservations are required, and can be made at recreation.gov/ticket/facility/300018. More information is available on the Facebook page and website fws.gov/refuge/kilauea_point/.
Laurel Smith, staff writer and photographer, can be reached at 245-0424 or firstname.lastname@example.org.