Categorized | Environment, Featured

Pulling together to protect Kohala (Nov. 30)

Melora Purell, KWP coordinator, stands amidst a year-old stand of Poison Devilʻs Pepper tree. This plant is a major focus of control for crews of KWP and BIISC, due to its ability to invade and disrupt both agriculture and native ecosystems. (Photo courtesy of Kohala Watershed Partnership)

Special to Hawaii 24/7

Hawaii is in the midst of an alien species invasion that threatens our islands’ environment, economy, and quality of life.

Non-native plants such as miconia, or the “purple plague,” grow out of control — producing millions of seeds per tree every year and threatening to overtake our natural areas and watersheds.

Non-native animals such as the coqui frog jeopardize tourist revenue and residents’ property values, and the Little Fire Ant compromises our ability to tend crops. Containing and removing these unwanted species cost Hawaii taxpayers millions of dollars each year.

With the steady flow of traffic to and from the islands, this influx is not likely to stop. In fact, 20 to 50 new non-native species arrive in the state every year. The Hawaii Early Detection Network was created to increase public awareness of invasive species and engage communities in the monitoring of their own neighborhoods.

The Big Island Invasive Species Committee (BIISC) and Kohala Watershed Partnership (KWP) are looking for interested volunteers in the Kohala area to join in the effort to preserve the integrity of our district’s landscapes, forests, farms, and watersheds.

“In Kohala, a window of opportunity still exists to thwart the spread of invasive species,” said Barrie Moss, Pelekane Bay Watershed Restoration Project outreach coordinator.

On Tuesday, Nov. 30, two workshops are scheduled in Waimea to train potential members of the community-based “Eyes and Ears Network.”

The first workshop runs 10 a.m.-noon at the Hunter Education Center at 66-1220 Lalamilo Road, and the second is 5-7 p.m. at the Waimea Community Center adjacent to Waimea Park.

Participants will receive hands-on training in invasive species detection and prevention, and in how to report sightings of invasive pests. These workshops are sponsored by the Big Island Invasive Species Committee and the Kohala Watershed Partnership.

For more information and directions, contact Barrie Moss at 808-443-2751 or via e-mail at

Two KWP crew members bundling banana poka vines they collected from the steep slopes of Luahine Stream on Kohala Mountain. (Photo courtesy of Kohala Watershed Partnership)

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