Volunteers work to restore Kahoolawe

Lyman Abbott
Lyman Abbott
Mike Nahoopii
Mike Nahoopii

By Paul Drewes - bio | email

KAHOOLAWE (KHNL) - Kahoolawe is the smallest of the main Hawaiian islands, but has played a big part in our military readiness.

It's a place where no one lives, and few have visited.

Many people don't even know its history but there is hope

This island will one day be the center of native Hawaiian life.

In this Earth and Sea Project report we have the first part of our Only on KHNL News 8 look at the restoration of Kahoolawe

A chant echoes across the water to welcome visitors, a call to come to Kahoolawe.

But for many years, this island was inaccessible and off-limits because of the bombing.

Kahoolawe has a violent past.

Caught in the crosshairs as a target for decades.

"All over there are signs of the bombing on Kahoolawe but no where is it more apparent than here at sailors hat where a simulated atomic bomb was detonated."

From the air, you can see just how devastating that test was.

"Instead of using an atomic bomb they simulated it with 500,000 pounds of TNT."

But there are other scars here, from years of overgrazing by goats.

And erosion of precious topsoil.

Now, there is a struggle to bring back life to this barren land.

"We're trying to restore the habitat that was once here," said Lyman Abbott, a natural resource specialist.

And preserve pieces of the past. For future generations.

This challenging land, is filled with unique challenges.

But life is returning to Kahoolawe, one plant at a time.

There is also a spiritual growth here.

And hope this island in the center of the state, will become a cultural and spiritual center. A place where native traditions and practices are not just recognized but once again become the way of life.

"We are the center, the piko, of the past and present of Hawaiians, we take from the future, the science with the cultural past so we can bridge the gap to do something better," said Mike Nahoopii of the Kahoolawe Island Reserve Commission.

While there are no permanent residents on Kahoolawe, there is a staff of about two dozen that maintain and restore the island. They are brought to Kahoolawe each week, along with volunteers, to help bring back life to the target isle.

Join us next week as we see what is left from decades of bombing, and how Kahoolawe's future will always be filled with danger.