Caring for the aina: Volunteers clean up park during National Public Lands Day

| September 30, 2011 | 0 Comments
Corey Yamashita (left), park ranger, COE-HD, spreads mulch as Trent Cayetano volunteers to clean up Kaha Garden at Kawainui Marsh in Kailua for National Public Lands Day, Saturday.

Corey Yamashita (left), park ranger, COE-HD, spreads mulch as Trent Cayetano volunteers to clean up Kaha Garden at Kawainui Marsh in Kailua for National Public Lands Day, Saturday.

Story and Photos by
Angela E. Kershner
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers-Honolulu District Public Affairs

FORT SHAFTER — More than 30 volunteers descended upon Kaha Garden at Kawainui Marsh in Kailua for National Public Lands Day, Saturday.

National Public Lands Day was started in 1994 by the National Environmental Education Foundation and takes place across the country to promote volunteerism and conservation on public lands.

Volunteers representing the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Punahou Army JROTC, Radford High School and the Hui o Koolaupoko organization joined with area residents to clean up garbage, spread mulch and pull invasive species.

Meaning “big water,” Kawainui Marsh is adjacent to the levee constructed by COE for flood mitigation. The park’s Kaha Garden features many native plant species; however, several invasive species flourish in the marsh and need to constantly be kept in check.

Kristen Mailheau, community coordinator, Hui o Koolaupoki, taught volunteers how to identify invasive species that needed to be removed, including mangroves, Chinese violets, beggar’s tick and maile pilau, or “stinky” pilau.

“Kawainui Marsh is such a great national treasure,” said Lt. Col. Douglas Guttormsen, commander, COE-Honolulu District. “As members of the community, it was important for me and the district to be a part of this cleanup. National Public Lands Day is an opportunity for everyone to give a little back (and) to really understand what it means to respect and appreciate the land around you.”

Lt. Col. Doug Guttormsen (left), commander, COE-HD, pulls a chair cushion out of the marsh at Kawainui Marsh in Kailua for National Public Lands Day, Saturday, while Trent Cayetano watches.

Lt. Col. Doug Guttormsen (left), commander, COE-HD, pulls a chair cushion out of the marsh at Kawainui Marsh in Kailua for National Public Lands Day, Saturday, while Trent Cayetano watches.

“Participating in National Public Lands Day was a very worthwhile detour from my normal Saturday activities, (like) kids’ sports,” said Steve Cayetano, deputy chief, Programs and Project Management, COE-HD, who brought his son Trent along to volunteer. “Together with my son, it was a great way to support the community, learn about different plant species and enjoy the camaraderie of other volunteers amid great weather.

 

 

“I feel it is really important for my son to understand the importance of volunteering and being a good steward of our environment,” Cayetano added.

In 2010, nearly 150,000 volunteers nationwidepitched in to collect litter and debris; remove invasive plant species, plant trees and shrubs; and build and improve trails.

At COE events last year, more than 13,000 volunteers worked almost 46,000 hours to remove more than 800 tires, clear litter and debris from 260 miles of shoreline, build 48 miles of trails and plant some 1,000 trees and shrubs.

COE has been involved with National Public Lands Day since its inception in 1994.

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Category: Army Community Covenant, Community, Sustainability

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