Forces combine to manage one of Oahu’s rare natural gems

| October 6, 2011 | 0 Comments
Michelle Mansker, OANRP, Environmental Div., DPW, USAG-HI, repairs the boardwalk over the fragile bog area atop Mount Kaala on National Public Lands Day, Sept. 24. (Courtesy of Oahu Natural Resource Program, Environmental Division, Directorate of Public Works, U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii)

Michelle Mansker, OANRP, Environmental Div., DPW, USAG-HI, repairs the boardwalk over the fragile bog area atop Mount Kaala on National Public Lands Day, Sept. 24. (Courtesy of Oahu Natural Resource Program, Environmental Division, Directorate of Public Works, U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii)

Michelle Mansker
Oahu Army Natural Resource Program, Environmental Division, Directorate of Public Works,
U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii

MOUNT KAALA — On a sunny morning, Sept. 24, 15 volunteers gathered to do their part for Hawaii’s public lands.

Staff members from the Oahu Army Natural Resource Program, or OANRP, Environmental Division, Directorate of Public Works, U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii, and the state’s Department of Land and Natural Resources, or DLNR, came together for National Public Lands Day, the largest single-day volunteer effort for public lands in the U.S.

The annual event normally draws a crowd of more than 180,000 volunteers nationwide.

For the past three years, OANRP has successfully submitted NPLD proposals for funding. This year, the team received more than $6,500, the largest award yet.

The proposal involved Oahu’s only high-elevation bog that is perched, here, atop the Waianae Mountain habitat. This habitat is home to many rare and endangered species, all of which are only found in Hawaii and some only in the bogs. At 4,025 feet, the bog is located on the island’s highest peak.

The Army and DLNR share ownership of this bog.

Mount Kaala is a DLNR Natural Area Reserve, set aside to preserve and protect examples of native Hawaiian ecosystems. OANRP actively manages its half of the bog, controlling threats to the native ecosystem, such as invasive plant and animal species.

Bog environments are special because their acidic soils cause the plants that inhabit them to be stunted in their growth form. These environments are very fragile, and scientists have estimated that it takes hundreds of years for the bog to recover from a single footprint.

With this in mind, DLNR and volunteers installed a boardwalk over the fragile habitat 20 years ago, allowing people to enjoy the beauty of this place without harming it.

This year’s NPLD volunteers, including some of the original volunteers from 20 years past, spent the day assisting OANRP and DLNR in replacing this essential structure.

The new boardwalk was constructed from redwood boards set atop plastic lumber spacers. Hammers and nails in hand, volunteers installed wire mesh over the redwood boards to create the no-skid surface. Since the habitat is often shrouded in clouds, installation of the no-skid surface on top the boards is important.
The work was difficult and often dangerous, as volunteers’ many scratches and scrapes can attest to.

In spite of the difficulty, volunteers received an ideal reward — a rare, sunny day atop the peak, with views clear to Diamond Head and be

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Category: Army Community Covenant, Community

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