Waimea Valley Native Forest Restoration Project
Written by Kailee Jackson, member of Nā Kelamoku
April 30, 2016 and July 10, 2016
Nā Kelamoku, Polynesian Voyaging Society’s Youth Leadership Initiative, participated in Waimea Valley’s Native Forest Restoration Project on July 10, as a follow up to an initial collaborative work day on April 30.
On the morning of April 30, North Shore community members, Nā Kelamoku, and other volunteers met at the Waimea Valley Botanical Garden. Several Waimea Valley employees led us through morning protocol so that we could enter the valley and work safely throughout the day. After protocol, our group hiked up the Kalaheʻe Ridge to plant trees as part of the Waimea Valley’s ongoing reforestation effort.
The hike up took many turns and changed terrain multiple times. The different terrains included a muddy, rocky ground with tall trees covering the path and a dry, open path with no trees. Eventually we reached the top where the Waimea Valley conservationists spoke about which plants we would be planting and how to plant them properly. The plants we were planting were a’ali’i, koa, and nau paka ua hiwi. After planting, we would water them once and then the plants have to depend on the environment to grow. Because we were so high up and there weren’t too many trees where we were planting, these new transplants had to be securely planted so they could withstand the strong winds and stay rooted. So we were taught to hold the plant by its stem and tightly pack in dirt around the plant so the plant was secure and so the bottom of the plant did not J-curl. J-curling prevents the roots from getting a good hold in the ground, so the plant could be blown away. After about an hour of working, we finished planting 200 koa trees and aʻaliʻi.
Feeling satisfied with our hard work, the conservationists led us to a shaded spot that overlooked Haleiwa and Wailua. We sat, rested, ate our lunches, and talked story with the other volunteers and the conservationists. Eventually we hiked back down and said our goodbyes and thank yous to our group’s leaders and the other volunteers in the group. We all felt a sense of pride and pleasure knowing our hard work would always rest in Waimea Valley.
After visiting Waimea Valley and helping with the reforesting of natives, I was so happy when they asked Nā Kelamoku to come back and work in the valley again. For this second trip on July 10 into the valley, we cleared a section of invasive species so native plants could be planted there instead. One of the main trees that we removed were strawberry guava. Parker, one of the conservationists who led our group, mentioned that the strawberry guava consumes a lot of water from the aquifer.
It was hard, tiring work in the scorching sun all day, but at the end of the day, we all felt so accomplished. The thick, tangled section of land looked impossible to clear at the beginning of the day, but with all of our hard work, we were able to do it. Looking at the cleared patch where all the invasive plants once were, I felt a sense of pride. Now native trees could be planted and they would thrive there for years to come. Helping in the valley is such a great feeling because you know your hard work will be there forever. You feel like you really made an impact, even if it was just clearing a small section of land of invasive plants. We hope to continue volunteering with the Waimea Valley Hiʻipaka LLC and learning more each time we visit.