MAUNA KEA, Hawaii – More than 25 community volunteers participated in a weed pull Saturday, 9,000’ feet up on Mauna Kea at the site of Halepohaku.
The work day was a part of the Office of Maunakea Management’s (OMKM) “Malama Maunakea” campaign to protect the resources on the mountain. OMKM – under the University of Hawaii at Hilo – is charged with day-to-day management of Mauna Kea Science Reserve. That includes trying to control invasive species like fireweed, or Senecio madagascariensis, which was a primary target during Saturday volunteer effort.
The weed pulls have been ongoing for years, OMKM says.
The invasive species weed pulls began in 2012 and have proved to be quite successful with over 1,000 participants volunteering 7,000 hours and pulling 1,523 garbage bags of weeds on 37 separate locations.
Saturday’s volunteers included a school group from Keaau’s Christian Liberty Academy, island businesses, and community members.
Fritz Klasner, the OMKM Natural Resource Program Manager, said in a video recorded and shared by OMKM that the weed pulls are also an opportunity to keep an eye out for invasive ants, which have the potential to devastate Mauna Kea’s fragile ecosystem should they become well established.
The Office of Maunakea Management was the recipient of this year’s Kona Kohala Chamber of Commerce Pualu Award for Environmental Awareness. The Puala Award recognizes the work of organizations that exhibit sensitivity and concern for the environment through innovative environmental practices.