In effort to save the seabirds volunteers remove invasive plants

  • Laurel Smith / The Garden Island

    Park Ranger Jacqueline Olivera ends her morning with volunteers taking time to appreciate the ocean view near the water’s edge near Kahili Beach (Rock Quarry’s) in Kilauea. Volunteers were residents and visitors.

  • Laurel Smith / The Garden Island

    Volunteers carry buckets and tools to remove invasive species at Kahili Beach (Rock Quarry’s) in Kilauea. To allow for social distancing, the event was kept small with just five volunteers participating.

  • Laurel Smith / The Garden Island

    A volunteer helps Kaua‘i National Wildlife Refuge Complex Facilities Manager Steve Minamishin install a sign to alert pet owners to keep dogs leashed. Dogs can kill young, ground-nesting birds like the red-tailed tropic bird and the nene.

  • Laurel Smith / The Garden Island

    Kaua‘i National Wildlife Refuge Complex Visitor Services Manager Jennifer Waipa briefs volunteers on the invasive-species-removal work they would comple Saturday near the point at Kahili Beach (Rock Quarry’s) in Kilauea.

  • Laurel Smith / The Garden Island

    Indian fleabane is thick and woody, making tools essential for its removal.

  • Laurel Smith / The Garden Island

    A large, red-tailed tropic fledgling sits in its ground nest waiting for its parents to return with food. Invasive-species removal helps restore ground-nesting bird habitat to include more plant species that birds evolved to thrive with.

  • Laurel Smith / The Garden Island

    Candice Mack cuts down invasive Indian fleabane at Kahili Beach (Rick Quarry’s) in Kilauea Saturday as part of the Kaua‘i National Wildlife Refuges’ celebration of Public Lands Day. Mack is vacationing from Los Angeles.

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/.

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Laurel Smith, staff writer and photographer, can be reached at 245-0424 or lsmith@thegardenisland.com.

6 Comments
  1. Ralph Young September 26, 2021 6:08 am Reply

    There would’ve been more help participating IF the County would do its’ job and fix the PUBLIC ACCESS to Kahili Rock Quarry beach and point. “C’mon Man” get that road fixed. Mr. Charles Somers has had an agreement with the County Of Kauai to maintain the road ALL the way to the point, NOT JUST TO HIS MANSION. We the PUBLIC need that access NOW. Contact the County Roads DIV. and start the ball rolling -NOW…


    1. Person September 28, 2021 1:05 pm Reply

      Have you been down there lately? It’s way more beautiful and clean now that the road is closed. I hope the road stays closed. Lots of plants and nene have come back.


  2. Great work September 26, 2021 6:35 am Reply

    Thank you volunteers! Awesome. I was unaware of the covid risk from being outside, not near anyone, and doing years work that would make a mask necessary


    1. Mitch September 28, 2021 1:07 pm Reply

      They are less than 6 feet apart in most of the photos, so wearing masks makes sense. Notice her mask is off when she is 6 feet away?


  3. Surprised September 27, 2021 12:26 pm Reply

    Mounting a sign using bolts directly into he tree? Don’t seem ecological!


    1. Mitch September 28, 2021 1:08 pm Reply

      The trees an handle it, they’re resilient. Notice that most community signs at beaches on this island are mounted on trees.


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